Jun 262015
 

by Naja and Arnaud Girard….

The controversy over police use of tasers in Key West and Monroe County has recently received a lot of attention. The results of separate investigations in two high-profile taser cases in the Keys have just been announced.

Four months ago we published cellphone video showing an unidentified man who’d been tased on US 1 just north of Key Largo. After the clip went viral, the DMV’s Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation. A review of footage from two additional video cameras, led the Inspector General’s office to issue a finding that the repeated use of tasers in that case constituted excessive force.

And then there is the case of a catastrophic taser injury in Key West resulting from a 2011 incident on Duval Street.  This week The Citizen Review Board discussed whether Officer Mark Siracuse, who had tased Matthew Murphy that night had used excessive force.

Matthew’s fiancé Marie Annulese had complained to the CRB that officer Siracuse had not announced himself and had shot Matthew without any warning. Matthew remains in a Jacksonville hospital in a vegetative state after suffering a brain hemorrhage.    His family has filed a federal lawsuit against the officer and the City.

After some discussion, and an admonition from KWPD Chief of Internal Affairs, Joe Tripp, who told the Board they had no business deciding cases of excessive force without having intimate knowledge of the case law that applies, the CRB exonerated the officer in a 4 to 2 vote [with board members Tom Milone and Joe Pais dissenting].

To view the video of the CRB meeting click here.

For all Blue Paper coverage regarding the tasing of Matthew Murphy click here.

Matthew and Kaeden, just a few months prior to the incident

Matthew and Kaeden, just a few months prior to the incident

 

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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.

  18 Responses to “To Tase or Not To Tase: CRB Exonerates Officer Responsible For Catastrophic Tasing of Matthew Murphy”

  1. I have read all of the information on this case and once again the review board has proved they are worthless and will always side with the thug KW police. Once again they will pay out millions to settle the lawsuit and use the excuse that it is cheaper to pay then continue the lawsuit. I just hope the Murphy’s attorney looks beyond the money and forces the defendants to admit they were wrong. This all started because of racial comments and that should have also brought charges. Obviously, there are only 2 of the 6 on the review board that deserve those positions.

    • And to KWPD Chief of Internal Affairs, Joe Tripp, does case law say an officer can taser someone without announcing their intentions or even announcing their presence? Of course not and you know that. Laws are based on the need and common sense. Perhaps Joe Tripp you did not realize that. I find it unbelievable that people can argue against numerous witnesses and a video. Peoples perception of an event can vary but I thought the majority ruled and an unaltered video spoke the truth. Oh I forgot, Key West is part of the Bizarro World.

  2. Perhaps it is time to get some civilians on the CRB to replace the four police apologists. The evidence showed that Siracuse gave no warning, gave no chance for Murphy to stand down. Below are a few quotes of CRB member, Arthur Dennison.

    “Bad decisions often cause bad consequences. Murphy chose to walk about Duval Street at 3:40 a.m. and also chose to remove his shirt and punch a man. “Officer Siracuse acted correctly,” Dennison said.

    This is the logic of a rapist…”She chose to wear a short skirt and was asking for it..”

    “Siding against the police officer would send a message to the community and could cause officers to second guess themselves in emergency situations, then crime and violence will rise in the city,” Dennison said.

    More twisted logic with clairvoyance added to the mix! Dennison can see the future! His “reasoning” was pulled from a dark and smelly place…

    According to Dennison we shouldn’t question the decisions that officers make on the street….

    WTF is this clown doing on the Citizen’s Review Board then?!!! Dear Mr. Dennison, your sole and entire purpose and reason to exist as a board is to question the police! OMG!

    My head just exploded!

    • yes my head exploded too when I read it the other day in the mullet wrapper.

      this dennison needs be removed post haste from the board. its not his job to ‘politically’ redefine their job nor politicize any review that is before the board as he has done!

      the other 3 need to take a refresher course in ‘why they are there’ and its sure as hell not to play politics but to simply weigh the facts and conclude.

      Malone and pais weighed and measured it would appear but ford states:
      ““We keep getting stuck on the resistance,” Ford said. “I don’t think he did resist. The officer wasn’t obligated to announce himself if he’s walking in on an act of active violence. He was there to protect the citizen who was being attacked. He took the judgment call.”
      great thinking ford and out of it comes brain damage and a coma ongoing for how many years now?
      and if I’m not mistaken its in the law or rules of procedure that the officer needs announce himself that you need cease and desist or be tasered etc. if not I stand corrected and if so then ford needs removal too.

  3. It appears there are several in the CRB who are unfit to be there. They are cop apologists and will side with them every time. There was witness testimony and video that officer Siracuse tased Matthew Murphy without warning but that doesn’t matter to Dennison or the others on the CRB who have their heads up Donie Lee’s ass. Taking into account the actions of KWPD cops maybe these thug cops should start “second guessing” themselves before they act.

  4. Ok, so let me vent here a bit please. I’m a cop from out of state, and have been doing this job for the last twenty three years. I do not like tasers, I do not trust tasers, I will not use them. When I came through the academy we relied on defensive tactics rather than electronic gadgetry. Without really knowing it we were being taught the spirit of Bushido, the way of the warrior. Bushido is almost a religion to me. I really came to understand it when I became a Judoka and studied for years under one of the best Judo players in the nation. It is fairness and equality in combat. It is the showing of respect and even admiration to your opponent. It is not taking advantage of those who are weaker than you and using only the skill you need to subdue them. It is taking control with gentleness and kindness and respect.
    This new generation of cops is frustrating to me. They have abandoned the way of the Bushido Warrior, who gains the upper hand through training and dedication, and they rely on guns and tasers to win the fight. Quite often with devastating results. It is laziness, pure and simple.
    I can sum this difference up in one scenario: A young capable officer and I were recently dispatched to a suicidal, college age, female who had her boyfriend’s folding CQB combat knife and was threatening to cut herself with it. As I’m responding I’m pulling on some kevlar lined leather gloves and going over all of the knife defensive techniques I’ve learned over the years in my head. I’m wondering how bad I’m going to have to get cut to save this girl from harming herself, not really caring about yet another scar on this grizzled old carcass which is full of them anyway.
    When I arrive my officer is on scene awaiting backup… and she has her gun out. I ask her why, and her response is “Huh, That crazy bitch isn’t cuttin me!” It’s times like these I think I need to just retire and be done with it. The job has changed, the people doing it have changed. We don’t see ourselves as sheepdogs anymore when we’re perfectly willing to kill the sheep.

  5. From the Key West Citizen:

    “None of the witnesses said they heard Officer Siracuse announce his presence or give any type of a warning,” Milone said, adding that the Taser gun’s video footage backs that up. “The commands should have been uttered before the Taser was employed.”
    That doesn’t matter, Ford said.
    “We keep getting stuck on the resistance,” Ford said. “I don’t think he did resist. The officer wasn’t obligated to announce himself if he’s walking in on an act of active violence. He was there to protect the citizen who was being attacked. He took the judgment call.”

    So, at least for Ford, it was not necessary for Officer Siracuse to identify himself or give a warning before firing his taser. Did Ford create a new policy for KWPD?

    That said, I am not of the view that Murphy’s injury was reasonably foreseeable by Siracuse. Nor am of the view that Murphy had a right to hit the racist woman’s boyfriend.

    Naja and Arnaud told me after they broke this story, that Matthew had a premonition: if he went to Duval Street at night, he would have trouble with the police. He didn’t want to go because of that premonition, but he went anyway, and when what the premonition was about came up, Matthew chose to go after the racist woman’s boyfriend, whom, I think I recall, was trying to talk Matthew into walking away, letting it go.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around in this tragedy.

    I personally don’t believe Siracuse identified himself, or gave a warning. I also personally don’t believe KWPD will side against any of its police officers, unless the evidence is so overwhelming against an officer that there is no other choice, and even then, it might KWPD might not side against the officer.

    After what I saw IA and Police Donnie Lee and the Grand Jury do with Gary Lee Lovette’s damning taser recording and statements he made to other people afterward, about how Charles Eimers died, and turned what Lovette said into Lovette making it all up, boasting, so it was not believable, and the mayor and city commissioners and city manager went along with it, I didn’t expect any different in other KWPD conduct unbecoming cases.

    Hope I’m proved wrong.

  6. From all the cases we have all seen lately I highly suggest all residents and tourists to get a concealed permit and take a look at all the fine items on Amazon.com. It is very clear that the KWPD cops are not at all concerned with the law and are not brave enough to confront situations with a desire of no harm to anyone. Sad that this once safe party town is no longer safe. If they want to use deadly force then guess we all need to be ready .Is this Key West or Dodge city.

    Am I alone in recently viewing GUNSMOKE an seeing police brutality.

    It is only a matter of time before KW sees a riot.

    The future of KW is not looking bright and it will be seeing financial results soon.

    • perhaps we need call in the oath keepers who stood off the blm on bundy ranch and currently helping the miners do the same up in Oregon to protect us from the kwtd at traffic stops and while walking on duval st in the early morning hours.
      seriously the kwpd needs a clean sweep starting at the top and some commissioners to grow a couple and call for it.

  7. I still believe Tony Yaniz, Mark Rossi and our Mayor have some mighty big skeletons in their closets to continue to support Donie Lee and KWPD. There is no way he would still have his job in any other community in this country. How many people will be killed by thug cops and how much money has to be paid out to settle lawsuits before Lee is shown the door?

  8. desertcogo, why didn’t you name the other 4 city commissioners: Jimmy Weekley, Teri Johnston, Clayton Lopez, Billy Wardlow? All of whom I know pretty well, and wonder why each and every one of them have not called for the firing of KWPD Officer Gary Lee Lovette and Donnie Lee? It keeps coming to me to ask you, desertcogo, if your just naming Yaniz, Rossi and Mayor Cates, is “selective enforcement” on your part?

  9. Sloan, I’m sorry I didn’t include the other Commissioners but Yaniz, Rossi and Cates have certainly been the most vocal in defending Donie Lee and KWPD. I’ve only lived on this island for four years and I already know it’s the most corrupt place I’ve ever lived.

  10. Yes, those 3 were the most vocal, but the silence of the other 4, in the face of Gary Lee Lovette and the city’s own insurance carrier settling the case to save itself paying out even more money, is the other 4’s very loud endorsement of Lovette, Lee and KWPD.

    I don’t know that KW is more corrupt than any other city. It’s been my sense for some time that Key West is a proxy for all of America; as KW goes, we see how America is going.

  11. It is very clear that this city has no cure because they all know too much about each other and all are scared as hell about their future employment in Key West. Good paying jobs are hard to find in KW. For some stupid reason the voters have not cleaned house. Just maybe they are being bought with favors. Even the state attorney and FDLE are in on this corrupt situation.
    Firing Lee would be one hell of a good start but they are scared of what he might tell. And Lee is scared of Lovelette. Take a look at the 2 of them and you know Lee better have plenty of backup the day he says YOUR FIRED. The corruption runs so deep that it will take the feds to fix it. It took a paper like this that has the balls to expose the corruption in KW.

    Proof that the residents and voters are scared is clear by just the lack of posting on here. Election time is too far away to save this town. They need to demand Lee;s firing as well as every cop that lied on the reports of Murphy and Eimers investigation. If every corrupt cop was fired today not sure if enough remain to handle Key West. It will take one hell of a powerful man to take over if they fire Lee and it dam sure can’t be with anyone living in KW.

    As far as is KW the most corrupt town in the USA am not sure but it is in the top 10.

    This is a tourist town and without tourists will fail. Better wake up because your getting attention that already is costing you tourists.Take a look at YOU TUBE. Do you need it spelled out ? Reduced tourist equal reduced jobs and lower property values. The rich in KW will profit from this as they will be buying up property for pennies on the dollar and then apply pressure to clean it up. Pretty dam bad when you even have out of state cops calling you corrupt.

  12. JIMINKEYWEST …
    You make good points, but I don’t see any fall off in tourists in Old Town other than it’s the off season and there are lest tourists for that reason.

    This past Sunday, the Key West Citizen Editorial Board called for the resignation of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority CEO and Board of Directors over Cudjoe Regional Waste Water system relying on shallow injection wells right next to an old county land fill (toxic waste dump), to dispose of treated sewerage water, instead of using a deep injection well in the design, which would have avoided the biohazard the toxic waste dump will create if shallow injection wells are used.

    I thought the Citizen Editorial Board was spot on, as far as they went, but why on earth and sea didn’t they also call for the resignation of the county commissioners and county staff, for whom FKAA designed and built Cudjoe Regional, for which the County Commission is paying and is where the buck stops?

    That brings me to the main point of this comment.

    Why has not the blue paper called for the resignation of Police Chief Donnie Lee, and the city manager, for whom Lee works, and the mayor and 6 city commissioners, for whom the city manager works, over the Charles Eimers case? What’s the point of the blue paper airing out all of this slime in the bright sunshine, if it does not call for the top heads to roll in the city government?

    Mayor Crag Cates
    City Commissioners Jimmy Weekley, Teri Johnston, Mark Rossi, Clayton Lopez, Billy Wardlow and Tony Yaniz
    City Manager Jim Scholl
    And, Police Chief Donnie Lee

    As far as I know, I’m the only person who told the mayor and the city commissioners (during citizen comments at a city commission meeting) that they all should resign, because none of them had apologized to the Charles Eimers family nor expressed any public remorse for what their police did to Charles Eimers.

    The FBI, IF it gets involved in the Eimers case, will not make those city officials resign. Only the voters can do that. But a lot of local newspaper pressure on those officials to resign would be a nice gesture meanwhile.

  13. This paper or any other can not force anyone to resign. And yes even the FBI can’t do it. What the FBI can and should do is force this to go to trial. The result of the trial will earn many felony charges and that should include Lee as well as every officer that responded to the Eimers arrest as part of a cops duty is to stop other cops from breaking the law. Do I need to point out that a felony ends a cops job. Cops are smart and know when to resign to keep benefits.

    It takes time for people to learn about the recent events and for many reservations were made a year in advance for events like FF , NEW YEARS, X MAS, 4 TH of July. Many are waiting to see what happens and then you start seeing a slow death. For the past few years many places had vacancy signs up at FF.. Most of that is an economy that that never recovered. All this paper can and is doing is letting the world know and that has already started. I look to see a lot of attention at FF over Eimers death. Tourist will not travel to unsafe places. Yes someone could start a petition for the resignment of Lee and if this paper has the staff and time to do this then this weekend might just be perfect. Have some volunteers standing on Duval St.. Likely tourist that learn about all of this will sign it. We dam sure will and the same for FF.
    Up to the community as to place pressure.

    Even a 10% loss of tourist will hurt.

    All of this could been avoided had Lee fired those involved in perjury and false reports. Had he done that he would have gained respect.

    Captain Lee , it is still not too late to fire Lovette. Even if the union stops it you save your name.