The Eimers Investigation: Shocking Link Between FDLE and KWPD

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

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 FDLE had to be called in to investigate.

Lee didn’t make the call himself, though; he asked one of his officers, Captain Scott Smith to do it.  Captain Smith did make the call and FDLE’s Chief investigator Kathy Smith took on the case. You might notice they have the same last name and think there’s some connection there, and well, you would be right.  On Thanksgiving morning after Charles Eimers virtually died on the beach, Captain Smith called his wife, his ex-wife, in fact, at FDLE.  Kathy Smith is now investigating the father of her child[ren].

What did he say?  How did KWPD report the circumstances of the arrest of Charles Eimers to FDLE?  This is something FDLE has obstinately refused to reveal, but we can make an educated guess.  They said:  ‘Charles Eimers got out of his car and proceeded to flee from the police while running on the beach away from law enforcement and Eimers collapsed.  Eimers was found without a pulse by police.  He was given CPR.  EMS was called.’ Continue reading

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS BREAKING NEWS STORY PUBLISHED LATE ON APRIL 11th: CHARLES EIMERS FAMILY FILES SUIT IN FEDERAL COURT

Charles Eimers’ children have grown tired of waiting for answers from FDLE.

They asked their lawyers David Paul Horan and Darren Horan to file a suit for wrongful death against the City of Key West and 12 police officers involved in the arrest of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving morning.  The arrest resulted in a coma and death a week later when Charles Eimers was removed from life support at Lower Keys Medical Center.

The lawsuit, filed this morning in U.S. District Court, alleges that officers Gabriel Humberto Garrido, Gustavo Adolpho Medina, Kathyann Wanciak, Gary Lee Lovette, Mathew Johnson, Francisco Zamora, Thaddeus Calvert, Derek Wallis, Nicholas Galbo, Janeth Calvert, Pablo Rodriguez, and Todd Stevens used excessive force in arresting Charles Eimers.  They have also sued the City of Key West for having a custom or policy that allows police officers to use the prone restraint technique on the beach. Continue reading

CHARLES EIMERS FAMILY FILES SUIT IN FEDERAL COURT

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers’ children have grown tired of waiting for answers from FDLE.

They asked their lawyers David Paul Horan and Darren Horan to file a suit for wrongful death against the City of Key West and 12 police officers involved in the arrest of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving morning.  The arrest resulted in a coma and death a week later when Charles Eimers was removed from life support at Lower Keys Medical Center.

The lawsuit, filed this morning in U.S. District Court, alleges that officers Gabriel Humberto Garrido, Gustavo Adolpho Medina, Kathyann Wanciak, Gary Lee Lovette, Mathew Johnson, Francisco Zamora, Thaddeus Calvert, Derek Wallis, Nicholas Galbo, Janeth Calvert, Pablo Rodriguez, and Todd Stevens used excessive force in arresting Charles Eimers.  They have also sued the City of Key West for having a custom or policy that allows police officers to use the prone restraint technique on the beach. Continue reading

One Has To Ask: Why?

The more I read about the death of Charles Eimers, the more nauseated I feel. It leaves me wondering what has happened to Key West in the four years since I left the island. Specifically, what has happened to Chief Donie Lee’s police department. When I lived there, I would have trusted my life to any of his officers, without exception. Was I simply experiencing Key West through rose-colored glasses for all those years? Or has a hideous change swept over the island? Now it seems some of the officers are mimicking bully police officers in large cities or backwoods counties in the north who’d just as soon use their tasers or brute force in numbers on a person, regardless of his age, than try to talk in a calm manner with him to find out what they want to know. The video speaks for itself. We clearly see the man walking, not running away and then dropping to the ground as the officers instructed. And we clearly see several officers surrounding him and on him, as his face is ground into the sand. This man had no chance of survival without immediate help from paramedics, who could have at least cleared his airway before transporting him to the ER. One has to ask why that help was so delayed. One has to ask why it was not immediately apparent to doctors and nurses in the ER that this man’s nose and mouth were blocked with sand, preventing him from breathing. One has to ask again – what has happened to Key West in recent years for something this heinous to happen to an innocent man who’d come to visit the beautiful island to enjoy his recent retirement. One has to ask why sad condolences must go out to his family instead of congratulations on their loved one’s reaching that well-earned milestone of retirement. One has to ask the question: Why?

Peggy Butler

West Palm Beach

Anatomy of a Cover-Up

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.  He had finally retired after 30 + years working in an auto manufacturing plant in Michigan.  With a full pension and medical he was going to spend a winter in sunny Key West.

“He wanted to take it easy, maybe volunteer for some charities.  That’s the kind of guy he was, he would have given the shirt off his back,” says Eimers’ daughter Erica Garcia.

But none of that was going to happen; no visits from the grandkids or relaxing days at the beach.   By the end of his first day – Thanksgiving Day – 61 year old Charles Eimers, mistaken for a homeless man, would mysteriously fall into a coma while in the hands of Key West’s finest.  He would die a week later after being taken off life support at Lower Keys Medical Center (LKMC). Continue reading

Citizen Review Board Concerned About Eimers In-Custody Death

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

“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 Eimer’s arrest published by The Blue Paper and have been disturbed by the irreconcilable differences between the events shown in the video and the account initially proffered by the police department.

“There is particular concern over the use of prone restraint,” says Tom Milone,  “We’re considering reviewing the procedures in light of the incident with Charles Eimers and the growing concern about the risk of using that method in the sand.”  The CRB has asked the police department to explain the existing polices at their next scheduled meeting.

The question, says David Paul Horan, attorney for the Eimers’ family, “is where do you use the prone restraint method?  Would you use it in the water?  Should you use it in the sand?” Continue reading

“Injustice anywhere—Is a threat to justice everywhere…” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wisteria Scales of Justice

The wheels of justice grind slowly for a reason. Rushing to judgment often brings about a self-fulfilled and inaccurate outcome. Bias and prejudice, along with a predetermined perspective of guilt and innocence, have wrongfully sentenced many individuals to death.

Conditioned and inflamed ‘mind sets’ frequently give way under the weight of emotional appeal. I’m profoundly disturbed and saddened by the events surrounding Mr. Eimers’ death.

My life’s experience has required me to directly address several incidents where police conduct brought about the death of innocent men. In the last incident, the state, with malice and forethought, decided to execute a man they knew to be innocent. Over time they were systematically beaten back, so as to settle for three life sentences without parole. Continued pressure brought a dismissal of all charges and his release. Continue reading

Charles Eimers Preliminary Autopsy Report Released

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

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 witnesses who reported a scene of violence:  tasers being used repeatedly on a man handcuffed facedown in the sand and tackled by 5 or 6 police officers. Eyes bloodshot, face blue, nose and mouth caked up with sand, Eimers stopped breathing and became limp before dying a week later at Lower Keys Medical Center after being taken off life support.

Initial police department communications indicated that Eimers had suddenly collapsed and had doubtless died due to a pre-existing heart condition, which somehow led a doctor at the hospital to declare Eimers’ passing a death from “natural causes”.

This initial explanation is now clearly contradicted by the preliminary autopsy report.  Ten ribs were fractured, the neurons in his brain had turned red from lack of oxygen, his trachea showed abnormal reddening.  The report also reveals that the airways within the lungs exhibited “linings of tan exudate”.   Exudate is a liquid produced by the body in response to tissue damage.  Many have speculated that Eimers suffocated in the sand.  Could sand have caused tissue damage in his lungs, which would be one more piece of evidence pointing to asphyxiation? Continue reading

Charles Eimers Death-In-Custody Investigation: TOTAL GRIDLOCK

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 Charles Eimers ended up dead within five minutes of his altercation with Key West police is still not clear.

Sources close to the case have informed The Blue Paper that the officers’ union lawyer has instructed the fourteen KWPD officers involved not to talk with FDLE investigators until he is present.  A meeting has been scheduled for the 14th of this month but will likely result in the officers “pleading the Fifth”.  In other words, to avoid incriminating themselves they could decide not to cooperate with the investigation at all.

According to Dr. Scheurman, the Monroe County Medical Examiner, this is a considerable problem.  “I need to determine to what extent natural disease played a part in the cause of death; whether it a contributing factor or just incidental,” says Scheurman,  “The FDLE investigation will answer a lot of those questions.”

As we found out when speaking with Scheurman, the circumstances surrounding a death provide essential information in a medical examiner’s analysis.  The autopsy itself is just a part of the process and not necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be in movies. Continue reading

Investigation or Cover-up?

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Disturbing elements of a cover-up have emerged this week in the mysterious death of Charles Eimers.

Charles Eimers died on Thanksgiving Day of last year while being arrested by Key West police.  The cause of his “in custody death” has been the subject of intense controversy.  The whole debate about the will of the police department to investigate itself escalated tenfold when it was discovered that detectives nearly allowed Eimers’ body to be cremated before an autopsy could shed some light on the cause of death.

Since then the main question has been: did detective Todd Stevens deliberately fail to notify the medical examiner in the hopes that the evidence against fellow officers would disappear into smoke (which according to Bob Dean of Dean Lopez Funeral Home almost happened) or did he just not know that Charles Eimers’ family had removed him from life support?

“He didn’t know,” said Chief Donie Lee on US 1 Radio, “because he was not keeping in constant contact with the family or the hospital.”

But Charles Eimers’ son Treavor claims he had a long conversation with Stevens on the 5th of December, the day after Charles Eimers was removed from life support.   Treavor says Continue reading

Thanksgiving Day Death: Top Investigator Demoted

The plot thickens in the death of a tourist in police custody.  It’s no longer just Charles Eimers’ death at the end of Duval Street on Thanksgiving Day that is controversial, the investigation itself has begun to smell like a certain kingdom in Denmark.

This week we learned that detective Todd Stevens, KWPD’s top investigator in Eimers’ death has been demoted and removed from the Detective Unit.  He is no longer involved in the case.

Apparently, it was Stevens who nearly allowed Eimer’s body to be cremated before the medical examiner had a chance to perform an autopsy. Instead of being sent to the Monroe County medical examiner, Eimers’ body was sent for cremation to Dean Lopez Funeral Home.  It stayed there for 7 days, the main evidence in the case all set to be turned into ashes at any moment.

Interestingly enough it is a December 10th inquiry from The Blue Paper that apparently raised the issue – just before it was too late.

“When you [The Blue Paper] asked in the email about Mr. Eimers’ status,” P.I.O Alyson Crean wrote, “I asked Captain Smith, who called Detective Stevens who in turn answered that Mr. Eimers was still on life support and had not died.  About an hour later, Captain Smith and Chief Lee came to my office to tell me that he had, in fact, died.  Detective Stevens had not been in timely contact with the hospital as he had been instructed to do.” Continue reading

“One Human Family”?

Once again the City of Key West and the Key West PD have proven their hate and disdain for homeless.  The thing that stands out in my mind after the tragedy (murder?) of Charles Eimers is the statement made by the officer. “He was obviously another homeless bum living out of his car….”  I have personally witnessed the heavy handed attitude of the Key West PD on many occasions, whether at Higg’s Beach, Duval St, or Mallory Square.  It’s time for city officials and chief Donnie Lee to step up and live by “One Human Family”.  One can only hope some one on the police department will break the silence and lies and tell the truth about what happened.

Kurt Wagner

1999 Dodge Van

Key West

A SMALL PIECE OF THE EIMERS CASE: LYING COPS

Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D

Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D

Naja and Arnaud Girard are doing more than a good job in reporting the still-developing story about the rough arrest on South Beach on Thanksgiving Day that lead to the death of 61-year-old Charles Eimers. But if you have been a reader of my writing in Key West The Newspaper (the Blue Paper) over the years, you may not be surprised that I have my own comments (and suspicions). While a number of questions remain to be answered by investigation– like did the cops literally smother the man to death by forcefully holding his face into the sand until he died?– we already know one unquestioned fact about the case: The cops knowingly lied when they initially tried to explain to the public why the arrest turned rough.

While the fact that the cops initially lied will probably not have any affect on the findings of the official investigation concerning how Eimers died, it is a really big deal as far as law enforcement in Key West is concerned. Cops are not supposed to lie. In fact, lying on official police documents (like arrest affidavits) IS A CRIME! But as I have documented over the past two decades, they do it all the time and they have been doing it for years. If you have been following the Eimers story, you probably already know about the lie I’m talking about. But if not, let me document it: Continue reading

First Crack In The Blue Wall of Silence

“Someone better get him away from me before I arrest the son of a bitch myself!”

When the other officer asked “KA” what she was talking about, according to a witness, she said, “He just murdered that man.”  “That Man” was Charles Eimers and “KA” is Kathyann Wanciak of the Key West Police Department, who on Thanksgiving morning, along with other officers, was arresting Eimers on South Beach at the end of Duval St.  Within a few minutes Eimers would pass out facedown in the sand, wrists lacerated by tight hand-cuffs, blue in the face, and no longer breathing.  He would never regain consciousness.  Thousands of people have since seen the video captured by a bystander, which instantly raised questions of excessive force.

It took over 3 weeks for our still confidential source to decide to call someone about what he/she had heard that morning.  That was a quickly closing porthole into what really happened that day.  If our witness is correct, KA became so infuriated by the egregious behavior of one other officer that for a brief moment she broke the sacrosanct police “code of silence”. Continue reading

POLICE CHIEF DONIE LEE ADMITS EIMERS MAY HAVE DIED BY ASPHYXIATION

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

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 have died of asphyxiation.

Thousands have now become aware of a video taken by a bystander of Eimers’ arrest on Thanksgiving Day.  It shows Eimers complying with police, laying down on the beach on his stomach and being handcuffed.  However, within 5 minutes, the retired autoworker and father of four who dreamed of vacationing in Key West was dead.

Now that it is admitted that Eimers didn’t die of a heart attack, but quite possibly of a much more controversial case of asphyxiation, a troubling question arises:  How is it possible that the news of such an event managed to pass almost unnoticed?  Initially we saw only a short statement in the Key West Citizen regarding a man who had collapsed all of a sudden while resisting arrest on South Beach at the end of Duval Street. Continue reading

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

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

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 in the hands of police, on South Beach, at the foot of Duval Street.

Eimers had been a GM man, living in Michigan all his life. Now, with four children all grown up and rearing kids of their own, with his GM pension and full health insurance in place, he was going to get a taste of the ‘tropics’.

“He planned to keep occupied by volunteering,” said his son, Treavor Eimers, “He didn’t need to work; he had enough to live on with his pension.  He liked to live below his means.”

Treavor, who is a nurse anesthetist living in Northern Michigan, said he watched the video of his father’s arrest published by The Blue Paper last week [Issue #40] and was shocked by the discrepancies between what was shown in that video and the version of the incident he’d been given by Key West police.

“Detective Todd Stevens told me my dad was aggressive from the moment he got out of the car,” said Treavor on the phone, “He said that he wouldn’t put his hands behind his back and that he fought the police even after he had been handcuffed and then collapsed all of a sudden and couldn’t be revived.”

Actually, that closely resembles the description of events we were given when we first asked the City for information the day after the incident: Continue reading

POLICE DENY RESPONSIBILITY IN DEATH OF TOURIST, THANKSGIVING DAY

“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 eyewitnesses, Eimers was tased until dead.  Reportedly in the words of one eyewitness, a police officer from New York, it was “legalized murder on the beach.”

The video stops before showing Eimers going ‘limp’ and it doesn’t conclusively show whether Tasers were used or not.

So what happened? Continue reading