THE EIMERS CASE: Witness Claims Police Intimidation Tactics Will Not Deter Him

Intimidation2

toy cop

“To be honest with you, I am really nervous about the whole thing.  I think they’re going to bother him or something,” says L, whose friend P was subpoenaed to testify before the Grand Jury in the Charles Eimers case last Wednesday.

While P was testifying, two squad cars were parked in front of his house, one blocking his driveway.  His friend, concerned about the strange coincidence, texted him a photo of the police cars.

On a recent occasion, officer Gary Lee Lovette, who was one of the officers who arrested Eimers last Thanksgiving, reportedly pushed P’s shopping cart violently out of his way at a Public grocery store.

P had spoken with the Blue Paper after Eimers’ death revealing certain behavior and incriminating admissions by Key West police officer Lovette.  After P was finally interviewed by FDLE, he says Lovette’s attitude became threatening. Continue reading

Reenactment Points To Asphyxiation

“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 Charles Eimers died last Thanksgiving Day while being arrested by Key West police officers. The woman on the sand is Naja Girard of The Blue Paper.  We were trying to understand, through a reenactment, the most troubling part of the tragedy:  the cause of death itself.

Medical Examiner E. Hunt Scheuerman’s autopsy report shows no physical evidence that can directly establish the cause of Eimers’ death. However, circumstantial evidence led him to rule out asphyxiation.

This is what he wrote:

“FDLE’s investigation concluded that his face was not forced into the sand, but rather, as he struggled, his face moved back and forth across the sand. Audio recordings from the event revealed that Mr. Eimers repeatedly said “No.” Such verbalization would not have been possible if he had been smothering in the sand.” Continue reading

Invalid Investigation–Derides & Mocks The Death Of An Innocent Man…

Issue 48 investigation for web

An innocent man was killed while in the custody of the Key West Police Department. This disabled 61 year-old met his fate at the hands of police officers, as he laid down on the ground before them. This defenseless and helpless citizen  appeared compliant to all commands that were directed at him.

An onslaught of aggression was executed upon Mr. Eimers. He was face down in a prone position, with his arms extended above his head. He did not pose a threat to anyone. Continue reading

Ten Questions About The Charles Eimers Autopsy Report

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all believe that Charles Eimers’ death was just an accident – somehow the 61-year-old tourist was simply a ‘walking heart attack’ and when police tried to arrest him he stressed out and his heart gave up.

We have a few questions about the final autopsy report:

1.  What About The Civilian Witnesses?

Eimers’ “face was not forced into the sand,” wrote former Monroe County Medical Examiner, E. Hunt Sheuerman, “but, rather, as he struggled, his face moved back and forth across the sand.”

We know the Medical Examiners’ Report was signed on April 26th.  Of the many civilian witnesses we spoke to, only two were ever interviewed by FDLE and those two interviews took place in mid May, several weeks after the Medical Examiner had already signed his report. Continue reading

MEDICAL EXAMINER RULES DEATH OF CHARLES EIMERS ACCIDENTAL [In Case You Missed The Breaking News Release]]

“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 by Key West police officers last Thanksgiving Day. Numerous eyewitnesses came forward accusing the police of excessive force, of holding Eimers head down in the sand, putting the weight of up to four officers on his back, and shocking him with a Taser stungun.

The Medical Examiner, however, in his final autopsy report, states that “the FDLE investigation concluded that his face Continue reading

CHARLES EIMERS ARREST VIDEO: The Extended Version (26 More Seconds)

This is an extended version of the video published last December of Charles Eimers’ arrest on South Beach on Thanksgiving Day 2013. There are an additional 26 seconds at the end of this video.  We had initially received the bystander video in two parts.  The two files were sent to us under the same file name and it was originally thought that they were identical.  In fact they overlapped and the second video included an additional 26 seconds showing more of what happened to Charles Eimers that day. Those two overlapping videos have been pieced together into the extended video above.

NOTE: At the very end of the extended video it appears that one officer has placed both of his knees, and thus nearly all of his weight, on Charles Eimers’ back.

MEDICAL EXAMINER RULES DEATH OF CHARLES EIMERS ACCIDENTAL

BREAKING NEWS CHARLES EIMERS

BREAKING NEWS CHARLES EIMERS

“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 by Key West police officers last Thanksgiving Day. Numerous eyewitnesses came forward accusing the police of excessive force, of holding Eimers head down in the sand, putting the weight of up to four officers on his back, and shocking him with a Taser stungun.

The Medical Examiner, however, in his final autopsy report, states that “the FDLE investigation concluded that his face was not forced into the sand, but rather, as he struggled, his face moved back and forth across the sand. Audio recordings from the event revealed that Eimers repeatedly said “No.”  Such verbalization would not have been possible if he had been smothering in the sand.”  The Medical Examiner acknowledged, however, that his face appeared coated in sand in photographs taken at the hospital, but that “No sand was found in his airways.” Continue reading

New Witness Comes Forward: “The Police Just Killed A Man”

ISSUE 67 CBS EIMERS for web
Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

Charles Eimers
Photo provided by Treavor Eimers

“I saw an officer kneeling in front of the man with a knee on his back and he was holding the man’s head down in the sand. The man had a reflex lift of legs once head pushed down.  One of the officers had placed a small black device on the man’s back after the lift of legs […] The female officer then started walking away from the scene, shaking her head.”  [See bystander video here.]

This statement was given this week by a tourist from Maryland [We’ll call her “M”] who was having breakfast at the Southernmost Beach Café last Thanksgiving Day.  The man she describes was Charles Eimers, who would soon die in police custody.  Continue reading

The Eimers Investigation: Did They Lose The Book?

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 KWPD in connection with the case.

The facts:

Both Keynoter and CBS reporters received statements from FDLE attempting to explain away the controversial appointment of FDLE’s Kathy Smith as the lead investigator in this case about possible use of excessive force and subsequent cover-up by Key West police officers.  The officers involved were under the supervision of Captain Scott Smith. Captain Smith is Kathy Smith’s ex-husband and the father of her child.  Continue reading

CBS Morning Show Probes Key West In-Custody Death

Issue 60 CBS photo
Issue 60 CBS photo

Treavor Eimers with CBS Correspondent Elaine Quijano and camera crew on South Beach [photo by Arnaud Girard]

The death of Charles Eimers while in the hands of Key West police officers is now getting national attention.   CBS investigators were in town this week researching the circumstances surrounding the death of Eimers, the apparent cover-up involving near cremation of the body before autopsy, destruction of evidence, lying to emergency medical personnel, and finally the shocking conflict of interest that is tainting FDLE’s investigation of the case:  FDLE’s top investigator in the Eimers case, Kathy Smith, is the ex-wife of KWPD Captain Scott Smith.

CBS flew in on Wednesday with Treavor Eimers, the victim’s son, and a full camera crew.  We sat with CBS Investigative Producer, the very charming, Megan Towey, for a two-hour lunch, and in the words of Mel Brooks, it must be ‘good to be the King!’  Apparently when these guys have an issue with obtaining records from FDLE they have the office of Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General, on speed dial and a lot of weight to throw around.  Not quite the same as being a Blue Paper reporter. Continue reading

THE EIMERS CASE: WITNESS INTIMIDATION?

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 of the tragically fatal Thanksgiving Day arrest on South Beach has heard the Chief of Police deflect questions over and over by saying that FDLE is conducting an independent investigation into the death of Eimers and will decide whether or not there was any wrongdoing,

“We’re waiting and we want answers just as bad as everyone else does.  As in any situation like this, once FDLE completes their investigation, we will do an internal affairs investigation to look into what happened,” says the Chief.

Last week, some four and a half months later, this ‘independent investigation’ by FDLE was called into question.  We published that, on the day of the altercation with police, KWPD Captain Scott Smith had called FDLE’s Kathy Smith, his ex-wife, about the mandatory FDLE investigation of Charles Eimers’ anticipated “in-custody-death”. Continue reading

IS THE USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE A PATTERN WITHIN THE KWPD?

Alleged use of excessive force by Key West cops has been the talk of the island since retired General Motors worker Charles Eimers, 61, died after a rough arrest last Thanksgiving Day on South Beach. But its not like this is the first time that “excessive force” and other police wrong-doing has been the topic of conversation here. For example, I went back and flipped through the headlines of just one year of back issues of Key West The Newspaper (the Blue Paper). Here are just a few of the stories we covered back in 2002.

First of all, it may come as a surprise to you that then-State Attorney Mark Kohl was in the midst of a sweeping investigation of the KWPD. Four officers had been arrested or forced to resign and another officer was trying to cut a probation deal to avoid charges. During a street brawl in front of Sloppy Joe’s in July 2000, witnesses said that several tourists were allegedly beaten up by police officers, but none of the cops on the scene could remember anything about any brawl. So Kohl, fed up with “blue amnesia,” charged a number of officers with knowingly falsifying arrest affidavits. Lying on official police documents. Sound familiar? Continue reading

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