Dec 042015

Eimers Vigil

Commentary by Naja and Arnaud Girard…….

Two years ago, on Thanksgiving morning, paramedics were called to assist an old man on South Beach. KWPD officers on scene told them that the man had been running away from police on the beach and had suddenly collapsed in the sand and when they got to him he had no pulse and they began CPR.

An investigation by The Blue Paper was going to bring to light a very different story, including two bystander videos showing the suspect, 61-year-old Charles Eimers, being held facedown in the sand by several police officers prior to losing consciousness. He would die in the hospital a week later after being taken off life support. The incident and subsequent accusations of cover-up brought Key West considerable national media attention.

Has the police department made any changes to its policies? Could this happen again?

A review of KWPD policies shows that the section on prone restraint has been amended. One of the main criticisms brought by the Eimers’ family attorneys was their view of the incident as an indiscriminate use of the high risk prone restraint method on a beach, which they claimed resulted in smothering Eimers in the sand. “Would you use [prone restraint] in the mud? What about in water?” asked local attorney David Paul Horan at the time.

KWPD General Order now requires that an officer constantly check to be sure that the subject is still breathing if the subject is being handcuffed in a prone position.

prone restraint directives


Lack of transparency was also a major issue. Dash-cam videos were inexplicably erased or disappeared along with Taser video which may or may not have been tampered with. The audio from all but one officer’s external mic turned up missing, eyewitnesses were dispersed without being asked for their contact information. Other witnesses claimed they were intimidated or ignored and at least one tow truck driver claimed the police was made aware of a third video that was never found.

Since then every officer has been equipped with a body-worn camera. There were questions as to whether officers would actually use the cameras. The Blue Paper has since investigated several complaints made by citizens who claimed some impropriety in their interactions with Key West Police. Each time the body cameras have provided extremely good footage of the incident. In nearly all instances we reviewed, the officers appeared to us as extremely patient and professional. In one instance – a complaint of unjustified tenant eviction in the middle of the night – officers are seen helping the tenant carrying his belongings to his car and generally showing compassion for the subject’s unfortunate predicament. Obviously there is no guarantee that an officer who is about to abuse his authority will first turn his bodycam on or that incriminating footage is not going to mysteriously disappear, but so far the equipment has helped dispel many complaints and evidenced a high level of professionalism on the part of officers.

While covering the Eimers case, The Blue Paper also obtained and published two shocking videos showing suspects being strip-searched in the middle of the street in Bahama Village. This humiliating practice was thereafter determined to be unlawful by the Department. The Chief had the entire force retrained, clarifying that the practice was prohibited.

So, have all the problems identified in the Eimers tragedy been addressed and solved? Not quite. At the time one of the claims attorneys for the Eimers family made was that the City of Key West has a custom and policy of treating homeless persons more harshly than tourists. That custom, they said, caused Charles Eimers [who was living out of his car and perceived to be homeless] to be treated with excessive force. It is unclear whether the police department has internally taken any action in this regard.

At an ACLU sponsored forum earlier this year, Assistant Public Defender, Patricia Gibson, stated that selective enforcement is still the rule in Key West when it comes to enforcing laws about public drinking and intoxication.

Sheriff Rick Ramsay told The Blue Paper that 25 to 30 percent of inmates at the jail are homeless. “This is nothing against KWPD,” says the Sheriff, “but we need to focus on solutions.”  Criminalizing homelessness is futile he explains, “It’s a revolving door.” According to Sheriff Ramsay, jailing the homeless doesn’t solve social problems. “It creates new problems,” he said, “Being homeless is not a crime.”

Arguably, as long as Key West continues to ask its police officers to enforce two different sets of rules based on prejudice, there will continue to be a risk that such “parallel justice” will get out of hand or cause another tragedy. But in all fairness, the blame will not lie solely with the police force…


To access all Blue Paper coverage on the in-custody death of Charles Eimers click here.

charles eimers memoriam


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Aug 282015

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. FDLE reprimanded Special Agent Kathy Smith with a 5-day suspension. Agent Smith was accused of having intentionally signed a false affidavit in order to secure a $461,000 bank loan. Agent Smith became engulfed in controversy in 2014 while leading the investigation of the in-custody-death of 61-year old tourist, Charles Eimers. […]

Jun 122015
FDLE Special Agent and Ex-Husband former KWPD Captain Saved By Statute of Limitations

by Naja and Arnaud Girard…… A long awaited investigative report on a scandal that greatly tarnished both FDLE’s and KWPD’s image in the community is finally complete. FDLE Special Agent Kathy Smith and her ex-husband, former KWPD Captain Scott Smith, could have been prosecuted for the criminal acts of perjury and mortgage fraud in connection […]

Feb 062015
Underwriting Key West’s Police Brutality

by Martha K. Huggins, Ph.D.* Tulane University Emerita…………. The Key West Citizen wrote on January 30—after The Blue Paper had broken this news many hours before—that a $900,000 settlement had been “hammered out” in the Charles Eimers’ wrongful death suit against the City of Key West. Key West’s Police Chief Donie Lee finds the payout […]

 February 6, 2015  Posted by at 1:05 am * Featured Story *, Issue #100, MOST POPULAR ONE 22 Responses »
Jan 232015
Eimers Case: Accusations of Perjury and Destruction of Evidence Could Land Default Judgment In Favor of Eimers Family

by Naja and Arnaud Girard [SEE VIDEO DEPOSITIONS BELOW] Attorneys in the federal wrongful death case filed by the Eimers family against KWPD officers and the City of Key West were heard for the first time before Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman on Plaintiffs’ Motion For Sanctions. In their motion the family accuses Defendants of perjury and destruction […]

 January 23, 2015  Posted by at 1:30 am * Featured Story *, Issue #98 15 Responses »
Jan 092015
Florida Senate Examines Police Brutality & Excessive Use of Force...

by John Donnelly How many times have FDLE Investigators discovered evidence that indicated a law-enforcement officer had committed a crime? On how many occasions were ‘criminally deficient cops’ brought to trial and found guilty? The following excerpts (In bold black print) were taken from a brilliantly authored document that was prepared by Chairman Allison DeFoor’s […]

 January 9, 2015  Posted by at 12:28 am Issue #96, John Donnelly 8 Responses »
Jan 022015
Medical Examiner Admits He May Have Been Misled by FDLE’s Agent Kathy Smith / Key West Marches For Police Accountability

by Naja and Arnaud Girard By the final days of 2014, the in-custody death of Charles Eimers had left many Key Westers with an uneasy feeling. “It’s as though every agency we rely on,” said community advocate Christine Russel, “failed, one after the other, to shed any light on what happened. Instead, the cloud over […]

Jan 022015
Why I March

by Alex Symington……. I took part in a march for police accountability last Sunday with about fifty other concerned citizens of Key West. It isn’t as if I WANTED to. I had plenty of more interesting things I could have done on a Sunday afternoon; projects backed up or books to be read or just […]

 January 2, 2015  Posted by at 12:35 am Issue #95, Letter to the Editor 2 Responses »
Dec 262014
Thank You Citizen Review Board!

Thank you, Tom Milone, Joe Pais, Robert Cintron and the CRB for taking the action you did to involve the DOJ in the Charles Eimers case and the Matthew Murphy case! Finally, these two families might get some justice in the deaths (might as well say Matthew is deceased, since he is described as being in […]

 December 26, 2014  Posted by at 12:35 am Issue #94, Letter to the Editor No Responses »
Dec 192014

by Naja Girard… UNANIMOUS!  REQUEST FOR DOJ TO STEP IN ON EIMERS CASE / BOARD WILL PROBE DEEPER INTO TASING OF MATTHEW SHAUN MURPHY “Garbage in. Garbage out.” That’s how Tom Milone, Vice-Chairman of the Citizen Review Board [CRB], described the concept of the Board relying on  investigative reports furnished by KWPD, FDLE, and SAO [State Attorney’s Office] when it […]

 December 19, 2014  Posted by at 12:55 am * Featured Story *, Charles Eimers, Issue #93 16 Responses »
Dec 122014
Internal Affairs: Officer Gets 5 Day Suspension For "Lying" About Killing Charles Eimers

by Naja and Arnaud Girard KWPD Chief Donie Lee published the department’s Internal Affairs review of Charles Eimers’ in-custody death on Monday. Officers were found to have acted professionally while using techniques that are proper for “actively resisting subjects.” “I thought denial was a river in Egypt. Now we learn it is an island at the […]

Dec 122014
Officer Lovette’s Taser Recording Undergoes Enhanced Forensic Scrutiny / New Admissions Detected Regarding the Alleged Tasing of Charles Eimers

[responsive_youtube] by Arnaud and Naja Girard… According to KWPD there was no Taser fired during the fatal arrest of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day of last year. But after a few months of forensic clean-up and enhancement by the Eimers family’s legal team, Officer Lovette’s infamous taser recording speaks again and it’s not pretty: Officer […]

Dec 052014
Eimers Grand Jury Investigation: FBI Helped State Attorney Booby Trap Her Own Case

VIDEO: KEY WEST’S LACK OF EMPATHY  IN STARK CONTRAST WITH NY AND FERGUSON by Naja and Arnaud Girard FBI HELPED STATE ATTORNEY BOOBY TRAP HER OWN CASE “It’s a very painful day for so many New Yorkers,” said New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio last Wednesday following the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict […]

 December 5, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am * Featured Story *, Charles Eimers No Responses »
Nov 282014
DEATH IN PARADISE:  Charles Eimers Memorial, A Year Later

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL ON SOUTH BEACH FOR CHARLES EIMERS A hundred or so Key Westers gathered on Thanksgiving night on South Beach for the anniversary of Charles Eimers’ death. Tourist for a day, Mr. Eimers met with a controversial death on November 28th of last year within 24 hours of his arrival in Key West. “I […]

 November 28, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am * Featured Story *, Charles Eimers No Responses »
Nov 222014
NOWHERE TO RUN: New Video Devastating to KWPD Credibility

by Naja and Arnaud Girard 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 […]

 November 22, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am * Featured Story *, Charles Eimers No Responses »
Nov 212014
Kathy Smith, FDLE's Lead Investigator in the Eimers Investigation Put on Administrative Leave

by Naja and Arnaud Girard…. FDLE Special Agent Kathy Smith was escorted out of her Marathon office on Wednesday.  She has reportedly been put on paid 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 […]

 November 21, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am * Featured Story *, Charles Eimers No Responses »
Nov 072014
CHARLES EIMERS UPDATE: Police, Death, and Missing Videotape

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 […]

 November 7, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 am * Featured Story *, Charles Eimers No Responses »
Sep 192014

by Dennis Reeves Cooper….. By now, you have probably read in the daily paper or heard on the radio that the City of Key West has agreed to pay former Key West cop Matt Klosowski $ 287,500 to settle a six-year-old whistle-blower lawsuit. But you probably don’t know the rest of the story. The real […]

Sep 122014

By Dennis Reeves Cooper……. Apparently, enough is enough. Use of  excessive force by police officers, that is– real or imagined. More and more police departments across the nation are equipping officers with body cameras that can record both audio and video. The increasing use of this new technology has two goals: (1) Help try to […]

Sep 052014

State Attorney Catherine Vogel’s office is corrupt. This statement might appear to some readers to be an attempt on my part to be a bit sensational. But it’s not. Informed government-watchers reading this are more likely to simply yawn and silently ask, “So what’s your point?” I have been reporting to my readers for years […]

Aug 272014
Grand Jury Clears All Officers in Death of Charles Eimers / Vogel Brings in Expert Police Officer Defense Witness

Commentary by Naja Girard……. “This allows the prosecutor to say I didn’t take the decision.  The Grand Jury did it.  The people did it.  But of course, how vigorously the prosecutor presents the case is everything.  It’s just the prosecutor presenting a case to these Grand Jurors.  If the DA doesn’t want an indictment or […]

Jul 252014

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. [responsive_youtube] “Your safe word is “no” and if you can’t talk, move your arms.” The woman lies down on the beach resting on her stomach, hands behind her back.  To be clear, we’re not shooting a bondage movie.  This is South Beach, at the end of Duval Street, where 61-year-old […]

Jun 272014
Medical Examiner Rules Death of Charles Eimers Accidental

“Mr. Eimers was at risk of a sudden death, at any time, due to either a chaotic cardiac rhythm or worsening of his congestive heart failure,” wrote the E. Hunt Scheuerman, M.D., the Monroe County Medical Examiner. Charles Eimers, 61, a Michigan native, died after losing consciousness while being restrained face down in the sand […]

May 092014
The Eimers Investigation:  Did They Lose The Book?

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] is apparently beginning to feel the heat about the agency’s handling of the Charles Eimers death investigation. Last week the agency dropped its eternal “no comment” rhetoric and tried to convince the press that there is no conflict of interest between FDLE and […]

Apr 252014

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. There is now reason to believe that two plainclothes officers:  KWPD Detective Todd Stevens and another unknown officer, posing as FDLE investigators, deliberately intimidated eyewitnesses who were present during the violent arrest last November of 61-year-old Charles Eimers. Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the story […]

Apr 182014
The Eimers Investigation: Shocking Link Between FDLE and KWPD

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. When Charles Eimers turned blue and lost consciousness while in the hands of Key West police officers on Thanksgiving morning, KWPD was informed immediately by Lower Keys Medical Center staff that Eimers would never leave the hospital.  Chief Lee decided to treat the case as a ‘death-in-custody situation’, which meant […]

Apr 042014
Anatomy of a Cover-Up

by Naja and Arnaud Girard… According to new information obtained by The Blue Paper, KWPD officers covered up the true circumstances surrounding Charles Eimers’ death. This could have sent paramedics on the wrong path and might even have jeoparidized Eimers’ chances of survival. For Charles Eimers, it was the first day of a new life.  […]

 April 4, 2014  Posted by at 5:03 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Feb 282014
Citizen Review Board Concerned About Eimers In-Custody Death

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. “I am deeply concerned by the circumstances surrounding the in-custody death of Charles Eimers,” CRB [Citizen Review Board] member Tom Milone said Wednesday. The controversy about the Thanksgiving morning death on South Beach of 61-year old Charles Eimers continues to grow.  Thousands of people have reviewed the video of Charles […]

Feb 142014
Charles Eimers Preliminary Autopsy Report Released

Monroe County Medical Examiner E. Hunt Scheuerman, MD on Thursday released his preliminary objective report following the autopsy of Charles Eimers. Charles Eimers, 61, tourist for a day in our island Paradise, died on Thanksgiving day while in the hands of Key West police officers.   The arrest took place on South Beach in front of multiple […]

Feb 072014
Charles Eimers Death-In-Custody Investigation:  TOTAL GRIDLOCK

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. An update into the death-in-custody of Charles Eimers reveals an investigation in total gridlock and it could remain that way indefinitely.  The main problem stems from the fact that apparently to date none of the officers present during the infamous Thanksgiving Day arrest has been interrogated by FDLE investigators.  How […]

Dec 272013

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. The tragic death of a 61-year-old tourist while in the hands of Key West police officers is becoming increasingly controversial.  After suggesting that Charles Eimers had succumbed to pre-existing “very serious heart problems” while resisting arrest, the Chief of Police admitted this week on US 1 Radio that Eimers may […]

Dec 202013
THANKSGIVING DAY TRAGEDY:  Increasing Doubts About What Really Happened To Charles Eimers

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. Charles Eimers was finally going to realize his dream: leave Michigan and spend a winter in Key West.  It was Thanksgiving morning and at 61 years of age Eimers had made it to the Southernmost City. But before his first day in the ‘tropics’ was over he would mysteriously die […]

 December 20, 2013  Posted by at 12:00 am * Featured Story *, Naja and Arnaud Girard No Responses »
Dec 132013

by Naja and Arnaud Girard……. “Eimers exited the car and began actively fighting.” [Officer Lovette, KWPD] Within a few minutes the man in the video above [Charles John Eimers] would be dead.  According to official reports, no Tasers were fired, Eimers (61) worked himself into a heart attack while fighting police officers.  However, according to […]