NOWHERE TO RUN: NEW VIDEO DEVASTATING TO KWPD CREDIBILITY

A wrecking ball crashed through the City’s defense to the Eimers police brutality case on Friday.  At a scheduled deposition Chief Lee was expected to provide bureaucratic information about the City’s procedures and policies in the wrongful death case filed by the Eimers family against the City of Key West and 13 police officers.

But instead he spent over two hours freefalling into a seemingly endless pit opened by allegations of  “perjury” committed by his officers.  At issue was the surprise new bystander video that showed up this week from Colombia.   Unlike the first video, it shows Eimers arrest all the way to the point of his death.  A fact that turns out to be devastating to the somewhat creative and more favorable stories cooked up by some of the officers.

“Sir, we’ve gone to the trouble, in preparation for various motion practice,” said attorney Robert McKee, “of taking every question and answer of your officers who were under oath and every time their answers were not what the video showed. There are pages and pages of it”…. and down we went. Continue reading

KATHY SMITH, FDLE’S LEAD INVESTIGATOR IN CHARLES EIMERS CASE, PUT ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE

Issue-58-Mr-and-Mrs-Smith-for-web-800x586FDLE Special Agent Kathy Smith was escorted out of her Marathon office on Wednesday.  She has reportedly been put on administrative leave pending investigation of mortgage fraud.

The Blue Paper reported last week that Agent Kathy Smith and her ex-husband Scott Smith [at the time a Police Captain employed by KWPD] appeared to have signed a false affidavit associated with an advantageous mortgage.  They borrowed $ 461,500 on a house they had purchased in 2004 for $ 132,500.  The home is now in foreclosure.  In the affidavit the Smiths swore to the lender that they had been “continuously married” even though they had divorced four months previous.

Special Agent Kathy Smith was the lead investigator in the death of Charles Eimers.  FDLE’s failure to secure Eimers’ body for autopsy, to return calls to witnesses volunteering information and to collect and protect crucial evidence, made the investigation ever more controversial. Continue reading

EIMERS DEATH-IN-CUSTODY UPDATE: Missing Video Surfaces

~CAUTION! VIDEO SHOWS DISTURBING IMAGES~

Colombia!  The missing iphone video of Charles Eimers’ death was in Colombia!

“Once we had the phone number,” says Darren Horan, it took less than 48 hours to get a copy.”  He is one of the five lawyers representing Charles Eimers’ family in a suit against the City of Key West and 13 police officers who were involved in the fatal arrest of the 61-year-old tourist, Charles Eimers, last Thanksgiving.

On November 28, 2013, while KWPD officers were busy arresting Eimers on South Beach, a couple from Colombia was filming the incident with their iphones.  Nearly a year ago the first bystander video went viral and shattered the initial official police version of events describing an old man running away from police on the beach and collapsing due to a sudden heart attack.  But in that video, aside from the controversy it raised about police action, there was one nagging detail:  an unknown man was shown also filming the incident.  But no one could ID that second tourist. Continue reading

KWPD AND FDLE, PARTNERS IN CRIME?

Issue 58 Mr and Mrs Smith for web

Issue 58 Mr and Mrs Smith for web

It’s a hell of a thing when an FDLE Special Agent commits perjury.  A hell of a thing.

Kathy Smith, lead FDLE agent in the Eimers death-in-custody investigation and KWPD’s Chief of Operations at the time of the arrest, appear to be partners in a perjurious plot to obtain a strangely advantageous home loan.

This casts more doubt on FDLE’s “independent” investigation of the death of Charles Eimers. It is especially troubling considering that so much direct evidence including dashcam recordings, Taser video footage, and witness information was allowed to “slip away” and that Eimers’ body was nearly cremated before autopsy; all under Special Agent Kathy Smith’s watch. Continue reading

CHARLES EIMERS UPDATE: Police, Death, and Missing Videotapes

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

No trial yet, but the weeklong depositions of Key West police officers involved in the in-custody death of Charles Eimers were filled with eye-popping revelations and admissions about possible excessive force and cover-up.  Officers had to admit that only one of the long-awaited 9 [or so] police cruiser dashcam external microphone recordings is available, multiple dashcam videos have gone missing, and crucial footage captured by Officer Gary Lee Lovette’s Taser has been erased.  Finally, allegations surfaced that a witness saw police officers on scene deleting a second bystander video that showed footage of the entire arrest.  Officers’ testimony also confirmed a tense altercation had occurred on scene between a KWPD officer and a vacationing New York police officer who had described what he saw as “legalized murder on the beach.”

The death of the 61-year old tourist, Charles Eimers, while in the hands of Key West police officers captured national attention last year.  Eimers was dead before the end of the first day of his vacation in Key West.  CBS News reported his “Death in Paradise” after a bystander video was published in The Blue Paper contradicting the police department’s official version of events. As it turned out Eimers had not collapsed from a heart attack while running away from the police as was originally reported by KWPD.  Rather, the Medical Examiner listed his struggle, beneath the weight of multiple police officers, as a contributing factor in his death.

And this week, the six-foot tall, 220-pound [on average] officers were tip-toeing around the difficult exercise of demonstrating to the Eimers family attorneys that they could not have suffocated the old man and actually had done everything by the book. Continue reading

Ebola: Are We Ready?

“What do you think? Of course we are preparing for the possibility of the Ebola virus.” That was Randy Detrick last Tuesday.

Detrick is the PR Director for Lower Keys Medical Center.  What The Blue Paper wanted to know was whether our local hospital has the necessary isolation units and whether it is stocked with the full protective gear which could have saved Dallas hospital nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson from contracting the Ebola virus.

Detrick promised a written statement but has yet to answer our questions [aside from the usual ‘fear not good people, we are totally in control’ response cited above.]

What are the chances?

We were surprised to learn that Key West, by some strange twist of fate, has historically been a chosen point of entry for African-based disease.   Continue reading

Scott Fraser, Key West FEMA Coordinator Talks About Key West’s Height Referendum

Three feet is just a little more than the height of a fire hydrant, but in the world of flood insurance, three feet can make the difference between a $ 6,000 and a $ 800 homeowner’s premium.

According to Scott Fraser, Key West’s FEMA Coordinator, in some cases, raising a home up to an additional four feet above FEMA requirements could result in even greater savings on a homeowner’s annual insurance premium; as much as 94%.

The City Commission is asking voters to consider passing a referendum which would allow homeowners to break through the building height barriers found in the municipal code for the dual purpose of protecting homes from flood damage and drastically reducing insurance costs.

Some residents have expressed concerns about a secret “developers’ agenda” or unintended consequences that might result if the referendum is passed.  In Key West restrictions on building height were put in place as a result of strong demand by residents and they were aggressively safeguarded when a charter amendment was enacted that would require voters to approve any changes – so it’s no wonder that people are paying strict attention to this paticular referendum question.

In the video above The Blue Paper asks Scott Fraser to help residents understand how things would work if the referendum on height were to pass.

Here is the text of the referendum:

To protect property against flooding and reduce flood insurance costs for taxpayers citywide, should the City permit an exception to building height regulations when buildings are voluntarily raised off the ground, up to four feet above FEMA established flood levels, yet no more than 40 feet in height?

The video below explains the potential insurance cost savings when homes are elevated above FEMA flood levels:

Continue reading

Emergency Helo Fare to Miami: $66,000 or Free…

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CIMG1344

“First I said I didn’t want to take the helo,” says Ellen Engleson, who had arrived at Lower Keys Medical Center with a broken femur, “I was concerned about the cost.”   She was right.  After being heliported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Ellen received a bill for $ 59,000 from LifeNet, a for-profit medical emergency helicopter service.

She has since learned that the hospital in Key West could have made the choice to send her for free, in the County’s Trauma Star medical transport helicopter. Continue reading

The Burglar, The Vigilante, and The Axe of Justice

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“He saw me. I wasn’t even in the room and he shot me.  He shot me through the open door.”  What Troy Singleton had just experienced was the instant of thunder, blinding flash, and burning flesh of a 9 mm pistol shot right at his face.

Troy, you see, was the ‘cemetery burglar’ of twenty-four years ago.  Only at the time it was ‘the hotel room burglar.’  In the winter of 1990, a rash of burglaries at Key West hotels had brought the hotel /motel industry to the edge of hysteria.  Tourists were waking up in their rooms to realize someone had stolen their money and valuables while they were sleeping.  The hotel room burglar was said, in the Key West Citizen, to “threaten not only the community but the entire tourist industry.”

Twenty-four years later, still serving time on his 35-year burglary sentence, Troy Singleton says he now knows who that hotel room burglar really was. In fact, he has a signed confession from the guy, a man named Willie Lee Rose.  He also claims his trial was rigged and this week he filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus which is pending before Judge Louis Garcia, for violation of his civil rights.

This is Troy’s story: Continue reading

David Wolkowsky: “God Wasn’t On Duty One Day.”

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Last Tuesday the County Commission found itself once again debating development of offshore islands.  Local attorney Barton Smith read into the record, a letter from his client David Wolkowsky, who argued that his island, “Ballast Key,” was a man made island and should escape the restrictions imposed on natural islands [for example they are limited to one house per ten acres]. “I envision the creation on the island of a small campus to be operated by the University’s [of Miami] Rosenstiel School.”

Mr. Wolkowsky was not present. The Commission praised his intention to donate the island for scientific research and the usual debate went on about whether all offshore islands should come under the same zoning.

Then something totally unexpected happened:  Continue reading