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

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

THE POWER OF THE CRB [Police Citizen Review Board]

Dennis Reeves Cooper on Fox O'Reilly show

Former KWTN Publsiher Dennis Reeves Cooper on Bill O’Reilly’s show on the Fox News Channel in June of 2001

If you are a longtime reader of Key West The Newspaper, you know that, after 18 years of publishing The Blue Paper, I retired last November. Since that time, I have been finishing up several personal projects– like sorting out 18 years of back issues to donate to the history department at the library. I also have a Peace Corps application pending– I have at least one more adventure left in me. So while I am waiting to go to Africa or somewhere, I told Naja and Arnaud Girard that I would be happy to make some editorial contributions to their new on-line venture. Those contributions might be news stories or opinion pieces– or re-publication of special stories that have appeared in KWTN over the years. This week, I have some comments about a story currently in the news.

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There was a page one article in the Key West Citizen last week about a local man being turned away when he went to the police station to file a written complaint against a police officer who has allegedly been harassing him for at least a year. Scooter deliveryman Kenneth Lawrence told the Citizen Review Board (CRB) that when he went to the police station to file a complaint against motorcycle officer Randall Hartle, Sgt. Robert Allen simply refused to take his complaint.

The members of the CRB voted unanimously to recommend to Police Chief Donie Lee that he formally reprimand Allen for “deficient service” and they asked that Lee meet with CRB Chairman Larry Beaver and Executive Director Sue Srch to discuss changes to the police complaint process.

As a longtime police watcher, here’s my take on this. Continue reading