Issue #72 — Friday, July 25, 2014
by Arnaud and Naja Girard
“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.”
“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 Publix 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.
“He had gray shoes. That’s the only thing I could tell about him because he had a hood on his head and a noose around his neck. When I saw what was going to happen, I almost fell off the tree. I jumped, sorry I had even wanted to know what was happening on the other side of that wall, and I ran. I ran home as fast as I could.”
For years now, sitting in his yard at the corner of Petronia and Chapman Lane, ‘Old Man Chapman’ has been telling the stories of a far side of Key West that few can remember.
“It was right over there, where the post office is,” says Chapman, “There were no police or justice of the peace. They were lynching a negro. That’s the way it was in those days.”
Now that Chapman’s funky world of lighted tricycle, banana bunches and crowing chickens is being squeezed out by bank foreclosure, his stories seem more precious than ever.
Anyone who has lived in the Keys for any length of time knows that the ground we live on is very porous. Made up of either coral or limestone rock, the surface of these islands resembles flat colanders, allowing everything that falls on it to eventually pass directly through the ground to the salt water below, a mere few feet.
When the contractors dug trenches for the sewers in Marathon, those cavities immediately filled with salt water that rose and fell with the tide. As a result, anything that is sprayed or poured onto the thin skin that separates us from the ocean below finds its way into that ocean.
So, for example, herbicides that anyone sprays throughout the Keys would not only kill weeds and other plants but also would eventually become part of the ecosystems in our oceans.
Who sprays in the Keys?