Nov 132015
 

by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

Following the shootout that nearly killed a Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy on Stock Island on October 24, 2015, Sheriff Rick Ramsey issued an order making it mandatory for all officers to wear their bullet proof vests when in the field.  [Deputy Josh Gordon who had been shot in the chest by a suspect had been saved by his bulletproof vest that night.] The documentary above takes a closer look at safety concerns for deputies and innocent bystanders during Felony Traffic Stops involving armed and dangerous suspects.

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Arnaud and Naja Girard

Arnaud and Naja Girard, owners and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.


  12 Responses to “Stock Island Shootout Revisited: A Closer Look at Felony Traffic Stops”

  1. So this whole incident is being investigated by FDLE. Why even bother going through the motions of an investigation? FDLE has proven itself to be nothing but a rubber stamp for everything the police do here in Key West and the rest of Florida. We all know from what FDLE did in their investigation of the Charles Eimers murder and the Kathy Smith mortgage fraud investigation that they never find fault in anything cops or their investigators do. Why do they even exist and who foots the bill for them to exist? I suspect it’s the taxpayers so we get screwed all the way around.

  2. To date, the Key West Citizen and the Keynoter have not reported innocent bystanders were in the line of the deputies’ return fire. Nor has Sheriff Ramsay publicly reported innocent bystanders were in the line of return fire. To date, only the blue paper has reported innocent bystanders were in the deputies line of return fire. When I see something so frightening not being publicly addressed by the local major newspapers, nor by the Sheriff, I know that is the real issue, for there is no disagreement that Thomas was a dangerous bad guy, who needed to be captured; nor is there any disagreement that the two brave deputies who confronted and shot it out with Thomas that night, were doing their best to capture him at grave risk to themselves. There is, however, a question of whether the two deputies used best safe practices for trying to apprehend a known dangerous felon, and that, too, is a dog that did not bark, except again in today’s every Friday issue of the blue paper.

    For all I know, but for the blue paper, Sheriff Ramsay would not even yet have released the dash cam videos, and all we would have to go on is what he is saying about the shootout. In Key West, where some of us have come to wonder if we can trust anything that comes out of the Key West Police Department, we appreciate getting to see videos of what actually went down, whether they are made by law enforcement video devices or by citizen bystander video devices. Sheriff Ramsay knows the blue paper is the reason some of us feel this way about KWPD. I was glad to watch the dash cam videos and see Thomas indeed did fire first, after trying to fake out the approaching deputy, by waving his left hand and arm out the driver’s side of the car, while holding a pistol in his right hand out of view, fully intending to try to shoot and kill the deputy. Fortunately, the deputy was wearing a bulletproof vest. And fortunately no bystanders where shot. That was indeed a miracle, for which we all should thank God.

    When Thomas finally was located in a Bahama Village home two days later, as I recall, the home was surrounded by law enforcement officers, including a negotiator, and Thomas surrendered without a shot being fired.

    Naja and Arnaud told me that their readership numbers spiked enormously after they published their first article on the Thomas shootout last Friday, and they got new regular subscribers. They also told me that they met with Sheriff Ramsay yesterday, at his office, for about an hour and a half, before they put together their reports in this blue paper issue on the Thomas shootout with Sheriff Ramsay’s deputies.

    I was glad Sheriff Ramsay met with Naja and Arnaud, and they were able to get to know each other personally. I know they each want what is best for our community, and I hope in the future they can work together more comfortably. I remain of the view that Key West would be smart to hire Sheriff Ramsay to provide police protection in Key West, like he provides police protection everywhere else in the Florida Keys, including the incorporated communities of Marathon, Layton and Islamorada, and the private gated Ocean Reef Club community.

  3. They did it perfectly and as trained ? Clearly they did not. Gordon made the first mistake by NOT following the POLICY and remain out of site and not waiting for back up. What he did to was place himself in line of site.

    That huge mistake put himself in the situation where he was forced to shoot without regards to the safety of the public. Clearly his shots where not aimed and just rapid shots. How can the sheriff say this was handled perfect when it clearly was not ? Simple, his men never break any laws or rules.

    Yes FDLE will rubber stamp the report. I do not agree that the KWPD needs done away with but it does need cleaned up and that means a new police chief and many officers fired. The Eimers murder is clear proof of the level of corruption. Here was a case when 1 officer was all that was needed as Eimers clearly surrendered. All that was needed was to hold the situation till a backup arrived. No shots or taser needed and would resulted in an easy arrest. But for him we needed a dozen cops.

    Tourist do research areas and consider safety. If any start reading this paper they will find hours of reading just how unsafe this location really is. Sure make arrests when needed but do not let it end with an image of police corruption.

    In this case all that was needed was to wait for backup. Use loud speaker to alert the public to seek safety. With a few more cops Thomas likely would have surrendered. At this point his charges would not been near as serious as now facing attempted murder of a police officer. And trust me he will be back out on the street in 10 years maybe even sooner.

    Every one reading this could help by telling all your friends on facebook to read and subscribe to the Blue paper that covers the blue flashing lights. We don’t even bother reading the others as they clearly will hide the truth.

    • Jiminkeywest – agreed, except for trying to transform KWPD. I don’t recall if I described at the blue paper a conversation I had with a sheriff deputy about 3 weeks ago, after Thomas had been captured in the Bahama Village home. The deputy said he was in on the chase and investigation, had not gotten much sleep after the shootout, up to the capture. Sounded like he was not on the capture. He said he was born and raised in Key West and old friends and other Key West residents asked him from time to time why he was not on KWPD, instead of a deputy sheriff? I said, I bet that’s a delicate question to answer, He said it is, but the Sheriff Department is more mature than KWPD. I said that is a good word to use, mature. I said, KWPD has a history of cowboy cops. The deputy said that is true, and he doesn’t know why. I thanked him for his and the other law enforcement officers’ role in capturing Timothy Thomas, it was good police work. The deputy thanked me.

      I share that story, perhaps again at the blue paper, because I do not see KWPD transforming. We learned in the Eimers case, and in other KWPD cases the blue paper broke, that the city mayor and city commissioners and, in the main, the citizens like KWPD just like it is, regardless of what the blue paper writes and its readers think. But then, who can say something will not happen re KWPD, which is so jolting, that even the mayor and city commissioners and most of the citizens will not holler for a housecleaning in KWPD?

      Imagine how the Thomas case would be viewed, if the 2 deputies had been killed and/or had shot innocent people in the adjacent yard. Fortunately, that didn’t happen – no harm, no foul, this time. Hopefully, that narrow escape (miracle) will lead to deputies following the training guidelines in the future. The 1973 police training video in this blue paper article presents public safety comes first in apprehending felons, and then police officers’ safety. That’s the way it should be. For the sake of the public and the police and their families.

  4. The actions by the deputies seem inexplicable. And our sheriff’s department has been, in my opinion, the most responsible local law enforcement agency. I truly hope the meeting with Mr. Ramsey will somehow evidence honesty and understanding.

    Remember, we have the law enforcement that theAamerican people, and even Key Westers, want. No jury convicts the Blue for anything, including outright brutality–note our own Grand Jury whitewash of the Eimers case. I don’t blame the Blue: I blame the American culture of violent repression of the poor and minorities that fosters tasing to death and neighborhood fusilades.

    • the eimers’s grand jury was fed selective ‘facts’ and I’m sure was never shown the 2 videos of his killing. remember the old saying that a prosecutor can have a grand jury indictment against a ham sandwich if they want. so much for grand jury when a prosecutor needs an out.

  5. I simply think that because of the number of tourist in Key West it is better protected by having a local police station. As we all know many times the KWPD officers give tourist a warning rather than arrest them. They were very tolerant at Fantasy Fest and allowed more than legal limits at Dantes pool party. Must say from what we seen in the 10 days we were there was a well handled event. Only seen 1 arrest of a biker on a rocket bike. Yes many videoed that event and was handled as best as could be expected. And he waited for backup before cuffing him.

    My concern is how the MCSO would handle the wild sometimes illegal events. This is a tourist town and could easily become a ghost town if not handled properly. Will admit it might be faster to end the KWPD and fire all the cops. Most would likely get hired on by the MCSO so unless retrained on policy nothing would change. Perhaps the entire city of KW might be better off as Monroe county.

    How do you begin to fix such a mess. Would not be easy to just hire a new chief that understands KW. Lee is a puppet and that is what the town seems to want. If MCSO takes over control I am sure we will see a change. Keep in mind without tourist KW has few jobs and property values will drop fast.

    • Jiminkeywest, the Sheriff has “police stations” in Marathon and Islmorada. I forgot to mention Key Colony Beach has its own police force, separate from Marathon and the Sheriff Department. Key Colony Beach is the only city in the Keys, besides Key West, with its own police department. Sure, the Sheriff would rehire some, or maybe a lot, of KWPD officers, but he runs a different ship than KWPD has ever run. His deputies patrol Higgs Beach, in Key West, He can provide law enforcement here, but the city honchos would not be able to turn him into their puppet, or parrot, which they do with their police chiefs. If you are waiting on the city honchos to clean up KWPD, you best might be holding your breath. Even the new city commissioners I doubt would go for turning law enforcement in KW over to the Sheriff. I mean, how would all those cops who moonlight security jobs in Duval Street clubs, where they (allegedly) traffic in drugs, make enough money to afford to live in Key West, or even as far away as Big Pine Key? The Sheriff could turn KWPD HQ on Truman, which has a fine Emergency Center upstairs, into its local police office in Key West, called sheriff substations elsewhere in the Keys. There is one on Cudjoe Key, for example, and one in Marathon, and one in Islamorada, and one on Key Largo, and one inside, yes, inside the gated upscale Ocean Reef Club, and those people are happy with the Sheriff’s police operation in their communities. Each substation has a captain, who is the local chief of police, so to speak. Again, it probably ain’t possible for city officials to even hear, much less understand the words, if you tell them to hire the Sheriff to provide law enforcement in Key West. Might as well speak to them in Mongolian. So, yeah, I know I’m a minority of probably 1 calling for the Sheriff to provide Key West with police protection.

  6. So just what will it take to disband the KWPD ? Am sure the commissioners won’t do it. And the voters don’t care enough to force it. Maybe the feds are needed.

    MCSO might do a better job but cases like Thomas says his men are not trained either.

    Might cost another life and a family that won’t drop it for a million. Had the Eimers not settled so cheap justice would have been forced and the city stuck with about 10 million. That would got attention.

    • You are right, the mayor and city commissioners won’t do it, meaning it won’t happen. The feds don’t take over local police departments. They sometimes prosecute corrupt police chiefs and police withing police departments. I simply keep saying what I think should happen. I never once thought it WOULD happen; I’d have been INSANE to think it WOULD happen. What will happen, what is in the pipeline, is karma. How it plays out, though, no person can predict.

      I hope Sheriff Ramsay and his deputies learned from the Thomas shootout, after which he drove away, not captured, not subdued, not dead, that there are good reasons for the guidelines for apprehending a dangerous person. If that deputy had been shot and killed by Thomas, if either deputy had shot the innocent people in the adjacent yard and house, there would be no hearing the end of it; a hero the deputies would not be, and Sheriff Ramsay knows it, and perhaps he is having the private discussions with his deputies and their supervisors, which are needed, and maybe they will take that to heart.

      And maybe he will deal with the blue paper differently in the future. And maybe not. That’s his decision. He’s the Sheriff. He does not answer to the city or the county government. His overseers are in Tallahassee.

      The city settled the Eimers case, as you suggested, because the insurance company’s lawyers did not want the jury to meet Gary Lee Lovette and hear what he said that day, and later, and other police officers the insurance company’s defense lawyers did not want the jury to meet and hear, either. The smoke coming from the mayor and city commissioners, about they were going along with the settlement because it was the insurance company’s business decision, was just that – smoke. The city had to make that call, because it was the defendant, it was the client, only it could settle the lawsuit with the plaintiffs. The city did not have to take the insurance company’s recommendation. The city could have insisted on a jury trial, and that’s what I told the mayor and the city commissioners during citizen comments, before they voted to accept the $900,000 settlement. I told them it was outrageous to settle, after they had said all along their police did nothing wrong in the Eimers case, and after 2 of them had been livid with me at a prior commission meeting, for my telling them Charles Eimers died that day, because their police believed he was homeless. I told them before they voted to accept the settlement, that they owed it to their police to fight the case until the end of time, after thy way they had carried on about how their police had done nothing wrong. The city clerk tried to make me stop speaking, she said I was off topic. I told her I was dead on topic; I was saying WHY the settlement offer should be rejected. In fact, if the case had gone to the jury, the 1 million coverage would never have been mentioned during the trial. The jury would have been asked by the plaintiff lawyers to bring back a much larger verdict, and if the jury had, say, brought back a verdict for $10,000,000, the insurance company would have paid $1,000,000 of it, the policy limits, and the city would have gotten stuck with the remaining $9,000,000 – because the insurance company had made a $900,000 settlement with the plaintiff, subject to the commission’s ratification, and the city then had rejected the settlement. That’s why the insurance company did that: it did not wan to go to trial without covering its own ass and putting the additional risk on the city, if the jury went “wild”. That’s the backstory of that settlement, which was never reported in the local mullet wrappers.

      I also told the mayor and the city commissioners they all should resign, because none of them showed any public remorse nor made any apology to the Eimers family, for that KWPD had done to their father. I did that at a city commission meeting, as well.

      I was the only person to call them out at a city commission meeting about the Eimers case. I did it 3 times, three different city commission meetings, as described above. Where were the furious blue paper readers? Not in front of the city commission. I bet plenty of them voted for the mayor and their city commissioner at the next city election.

  7. Had it gone to trial the Jury would not only seen that one video of Eimers clearly trying to surrender. And the rest of the damage from perjury and Lovette comments. In my mind they had no chance in hell of winning and for such an unjust brutal beating resulting in death the amount could easily reached 10 mil. The city knows the KWPD screwed up and took advantage of an easy out. Note the family and grand jury did not get told everything before it was settled.

    If the MCSO ever did take over then many of the events such as Fantasy Fest, NYE , gay pride and such would have major legal issues unless Ramsey were to set up 2 sets of policy and that is unlikely. Take a look at the live cams in front of Sloppy Joes any evening and you will see open containers and traffic violations, j walking, bike riders running red lights and such. How would his men handle this ? It is because of the relaxed law enforcement of KWPD that this is a party town. Not saying they will not arrest anyone but unless you do something too stupid or argue with them then chances are you are let off with a warning. Other than for the few times they screw up and use poor judgement they seem to run a good department. Problem begins when they start covering up for mistakes and the police chief allows them get away with it. Could it be corrected ? Only by getting a new chief, mayor ,and commissioners. Only other way is for the voters to start demanding resignations.

    When tourists start reading about corruption they get scared off. Only a matter of time till more future tourists find the Blue paper. How many can you afford to lose ? Word is traveling and KW future is at risk.