Police Point Gun At Six-Year-Old Boy — and More…



It’s 6:27 p.m. — Sheila Carey and her two children are riding in a rented limo, a special treat to celebrate their outstanding report cards.  They’ve just dropped off their friend, eleven-year-old Shanyia Winn, who is now home alone taking a shower. A few minutes later, at 6:29 p.m. — the limo is stopped at gunpoint and surrounded by Key West police officers.  The mother is thrown to the sidewalk and handcuffed.  Her six-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter are seized by the officers, guns pointed at their faces.

Shanaya Winn

Shanyia Winn

At about the same time police officers are pounding on Shanyia’s door, “When I came downstairs there was a policeman at every window with a gun pointed at me so that if I moved or my dog barked, I was going to be dead,” says Shanyia.

The police officers say they were looking for a man named Marvin Smith and for a gun.  The problem is, at the time the police claim to have been looking for Smith, they already had him in custody at the police station.  And the gun? Apparently no one ever actually saw the gun and it might very well never have existed.

It was the third of last April. According to the police report obtained by The Blue Paper, not much happened.  A limo was stopped on Fleming Street.  As to the raid on Shanyia’s house, it is barely mentioned. “As we approached the apartment,” wrote Officer David Hall in his report, “a juvenile female walked out of the apartment.  She immediately started telling us that Smith and Taylor got into a heated argument in front of her residence.”  But Renatta Winn, Shanyia’s mother, says that report is a fabrication.  “And there were a lot of people out and a lot of children,” she told us on the phone,  “When I arrived, detective Leahy had a shotgun pointed at Shanyia’s face and all of the officers had guns pointed at her and everyone saw it.”

shanaya and grandma

Shanyia Winn and grandmother Donna Winn

“All those guns.  Anything could have happened – an accident.  A gun could have fired,” says Donna Winn, Shanyia’s grandmother, who lives nearby and was Shanyia’s first relative on the scene.  “They pointed their guns at my grandma and kept her away,” says Shanyia.

Similarly the officers’ description of the raid on the limo makes no mention of its occupants.  Sheila Carey, who was in the limo, showed us the happy photos she took with the kids that day and the scars she still has on her knees three months later from her fall on the sidewalk.  We asked six-year old Zentavious if he had been afraid, “They had really big guns. I was scared.”

So what caused KWPD officers to treat children so harshly?  From the police point of view everything seems to revolve around one puzzling character:  An ex-drug dealer recently released after thirteen years in a federal prison.  A thirty-nine year old black man named Marvin Smith.

Sheila Carey

Sheila Carey

Marvin had rented the limo as a special treat for the children. “Marvin would do anything for the kids,” says Sheila Carey, Marvin’s girlfriend.  But the man is also surrounded by the scary aura that comes with a long prison term.  On March 23, after a dispute in a nightclub, Marvin was attacked by six men on Duval Street.  They beat him and sliced him several times with a knife, somehow he managed to disarm them and to escape, covered in blood.

In spite of the fact that the records show that Smith was cooperating with the police by identifying the assailants, one veteran officer, Sergeant Pablo Rodriguez, was convinced Marvin was out for revenge and that he had a gun.

He was not the only one concerned about that risk.  “It was only a rumor,” says Commissioner Clayton Lopez, “but yes, I was worried about it and I called Donie Lee [Chief of Police]. But I asked him to handle the situation with the utmost sensitivity.”

And here we are at 6:27 p.m. on April 3rd.  Marvin has gotten out of the limo he rented for Sheila’s children.  They had stopped on Emma Street, dropping Shanyia off, who walked back home to apartment 10E in Fort Street Village.  Sheila leaves with the limo and the kids. Marvin gets into an argument with another young black man, Johnny Taylor.  A woman who heard the rumor about the gun calls 911, even though she says she hasn’t seen a gun herself.

It is clear from the 911 audio that Marvin is arrested on the street seconds after the limo left.  He is taken into custody without incident.  And that’s where the troubling questions arise.  If Marvin was in custody was the paramilitary raid on Sheila’s limo and Shanyia’s home justified?

Now, there was still the gun issue.  But no one at the scene had seen a gun.  Neither the limo driver, nor the 911 caller, nor Taylor [the victim] provided statements about seeing a gun. Yet, Sergeant Pablo Rodriguez would inform Officer Hall that at around 6:30 on the 3rd of April, Laetryce Smith, Johnny Taylor’s girlfriend, had told him that Smith had pulled a gun on Taylor and herself. While we were researching this story, Police Lt. David Smith informed us that he believed Johnny and Laetryce had provided written statements about the gun.  But no such reports exist on the record.

“We never told Pablo Rodriquez about a gun,” says Laetryce.  Marvin Smith claims Sergeant Rodriguez made it all up so they could send Marvin back to prison.

Sheila Carey's children, Zamyrie and Zintaveous

Sheila Carey’s children, Zamyrie and Zentavious

The case about Marvin Smith having a gun would be dismissed by a federal judge two months later on May 30, 2014, so apparently there was no gun.

True or not, based on questionable police work, KWPD terrified a bunch of pre-teen school children who will always remember how the good police were apparently ready to shoot them dead for no understandable reason and certainly through no fault of their own.  [We will let the readers ask themselves whether they believe the same tactics would have been used had those children been white.]

“What our police don’t understand is that the context they are operating in is a lot closer to Mayberry than to NYPD Blue,” says Commissioner Lopez,  “Something needs to slap them back to reality, but I don’t know who or what could.”

His view echoes the rising anger in Bahama Village. “They try to be something they’re not.  They could never pull this stuff in a big city.  Try that in Miami.  They would get shot,” says Donna Winn.

Several of the stories we’ve come across would make one question whether some of these officers have any communication skills at all.  On October 17, 2009, four KWPD officers had a warrant to arrest 23-year-old Shimika Clark for theft.  At the time she lived with her grandmother, Yvonne Edwards, in a small house in a back alley in Bahama Village.  Since the officers were waiting in ambush in front of Edward’s house when Clark showed up, one would think they might have arrested Clark before she went inside.  Instead, four police officers decided to dress in S.W.A.T. team uniforms, slip “hoods” on their heads, and then storm grandma’s house without knocking. While yelling profanities, they used a taser on the 23–year-old, who had rushed into the bathroom in terror, shackled her up, and dragged her out of the house.

Granted the hoods were not white and pointy, but one would think that white police officers, given the history of this country, would have more sense than to put hoods on before forcing their way into a black grandmother’s house.  “What is it with these police guys,” said a teenage girl we talked to, “they get bored and they go, ‘let’s play dress up and go terrify some black people?’”

Renatta Winn and her daughter Shanyia moved to Jacksonville a week later:  “I don’t feel safe in Key West.  How could they treat children like that?  Shanyia was born with a heart murmur.  She couldn’t catch her breath.” Renatta told us she wanted to take her daughter inside to help her calm down but that Detective Leahy would not let her do that unless she agreed to let him search the house.  “He came in.  He didn’t find anything.”

Shimika Clark also moved out of Key West after her ordeal with the four hooded police officers who reportedly had said to her, “You are lucky we didn’t shoot you.”

“It is extremely difficult to strike a balance between the need to stop the drug dealing and maintaining respect for the community,” says Commissioner Lopez, “The solution is better communication, not militarized police and more Gestapo tactics.”

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  29 Responses to “Police Point Gun At Six-Year-Old Boy — and More…”

  1. Unconscionable behavior on the part of the Key West Police. They’ve been watching too many crime shows on TV. For shame!

    • ko..not only watching too many crime shows but ‘play acting’ these shows too..much to the detriment of our citizenry. and clayton asks

      ““What our police don’t understand is that the context they are operating in is a lot closer to Mayberry than to NYPD Blue,” says Commissioner Lopez, “Something needs to slap them back to reality, but I don’t know who or what could.”

      well i know who and what and that is fire the damn idiot chief and hire one that is a strong defender of the constitution and one who will not tolerate such keystone cops moronic dangerous actions and weed out the psychopaths that are very apparent on the force and put them in a cage where they belong and bring some order and proper training to the remainder of the force. simple as that and there are many certified people that can do the job. there is your head scratching answer clayton…all thats lacking is the commission’s will to do it! the kwtd [kw thug dept] as named in a prior issue’s comments is an out of control terrorist mob that needs a damn harsh cleansing in light of all that has come out this year starting with the eimers case last december.

    • Clayton, my friend, I totally agree with your assessment. However, it would be helpful if you’d take a more proactive stance in city government to do something about the murderous thugs who roam our streets in dark blue polyester with weapons and really bad attitudes.

  2. WTF??? Wonder how much more of this behavior by the KWTD will be tolerated. Can you imagine how many more incidents are out there that the people are terrified to talk about??? Mayor Cates and Donie Lee allow this to go on. Is Key West under martial law? Please, all get out and vote, Key West needs a new Mayor to start with. Look at what happened to Charles Eimers and Matt Murphy. Mayor Cates turns a blind eye to everything.

  3. Does this really surprise anyone? KWPD is apparently the place for “wannabe’s” that most likely couldn’t get hired by a real police department. Most likely they had no homeless to kill, so they decided to practice their “harrassment techniques” on some one in Bahama Village.

  4. Terrifying presentation. The last paragraph of your article leaves me wondering if the raid was about a suspected gun, or about drugs? I, too, wonder if such a raid would have occurred in a white home?

    Back in 2003, Celebrate, I think it was, although perhaps it was another small KW newspaper, but not the blue paper, asked the mayor candidates what they felt needed to be done re Bahama Village? Back then, tension between city police and Bahama Village residents was very high. I replied that only KW police officers approved by Bahama Village elders should be allowed into Bahama Village. The newspaper reported what I said and that I was the only candidate who answered the question; the other five candidates said they didn’t have any thoughts, or didn’t want to touch it. Incumbent mayor Jimmy Weekley won that election,

  5. Horribly unprofessional. If I could suggest one thing, TRAINING! When one of these yahoo baby cops that have no idea what they are doing and have no people skills gets hurt or sued it will be the fault of the bosses that continue to let this go on. If all stems from no accountability at the top.

    • KWPD has yahoo cops who have been on the force a good while. Some of them got on top of Charles Eimers.
      This article doesn’t read like it’s about poorly-trained cops. It reads like its about cops gone berserk, a law unto themselves. In this case and in another case.
      I wonder what the blue paper had to do to get this far into the case? Did the KWPD investigate itself in this case. Was Police Chief Donnie Lee interviewed by the blue paper about this case?

  6. Congratulations once again to the Blue Paper for its investigative reporting. Serpico would be proud.

  7. Naja, for now off the record. Is there a back story in this situation involving Clayton Lopez? Did he instigate the raid on the home? If so, was it because he thought it was a drug house? Or because the thought Marvin had a gun? Lots of people in KW have guns.

    • Commissioner Lopez stated he received a call while he was in Tampa at an affordable housing seminar from someone he knows and trusts who told him they had heard a rumor about Marvin Smith having a gun and saying he was going to seek revenge against the men who had severely beaten him about ten days previous. Lopez says he called the Chief – asking him to check it out but to handle the situation with the utmost sensitivity. Commissioner Lopez says he knew nothing of the limo raid or the home raid until months later when Marvin Smith showed up at a district six meeting and told what had happened. The mom in the limo incident [Marvin Smith’s girlfriend] had tried to file a complaint with the CRB, but Sue Srch was out of town when she made that attempt – and she never followed up thereafter. Marvin did make a complaint to KWPD – probably about a month ago, but Alyson Crean informed me yesterday that there was no investigation into that case. No one said anything about drugs. It would be a big deal for law enforcement if Marvin truly had a gun – he is a convicted felon. No one we spoke with states they saw a gun and there are no statements on the record [other than Rodriguez’ hearsay that is denied by those he claimed said so] about anyone seeing a gun.

  8. Looks to me maybe Donie Lee needs to go see Jerry Weinstock, M.D., Psychiatry, and have him write lots of scripts for lots of estrogen supplements for Donie’s officers, maybe it will mellow them out. I found myself thinking today, the way your articles describes the raid reminds me of how I hear meth users behave.

  9. Please be aware why this is happening.The federal government does not want the friendly, protect and serve local Andy Griffith cop. They want a no nonsense kick down the door cop that will enforce their filthy lawyer made laws.
    Please be aware that several officers from every department are sent to Quantico Virginia, FBI headquarters for brainwashing. It is there where they are taught to hate the public. You will never read about this or see a story of what I just said on any of the mainstream media.

  10. Where is the Chief Executive Officer of Key West? How about the Commanding Officer of the Para-military agency storming the grandchildren’s house?

    It appears that City Commissioner Clayton Lopez is an incompetent and amateurish city official. His disturbing and dangerous actions depict a public official who does not have his hand on the pulse of the city or his community. He needs to watch the video and apologize to the children and grandmother; as he simultaneously calls for the Mayor’s impeachment and Lee’s resignation.

    Lopez conveyed sensitive and fraudulent intelligence, Lopez called it a ‘rumor’, to an individual who has demonstrated a marked inability to marginally govern and control the rogue elements within his police force.

    This misinformation came within a trigger squeeze of killing little boys and girls, along with their grandmother.

    As a standing KW City Commissioner (Lopez) made this comment concerning his police department: “Something needs to slap them back to reality, but I don’t know who or what could.” Really…!

    Sir, I want you to immediately petition the President and Justice Department to investigate and review the practices of the KWPD.

    Please advise them of the urgency of your request, for if the barbarism of this force is left unchecked, the loss of innocent life is imminent.

    • John, the victims here will have to file a complaint with The FBI corrupt cop( complaint) section.
      The other sad thing is if these people had dogs the police are trained to shoot and kill them.The police like to shoot peoples pet dogs for fun.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCNNiRfQiTg

    • john if i may be so bold to add to your

      “Please advise them of the urgency of your request, for if the barbarism of this force is left unchecked, the loss of innocent life is imminent”

      as was amply illustrated in the murder / manslaughter of mr. charles eimers by the unclean hands of the police involved.

  11. Wow!, I’m from Saginaw, Michigan. Statistically one of the most violent cities in American. Yet week after week I read crazy violent stories of the KWPD. Shocking!

  12. Hire more female cops. They are less corrupt.

  13. The readers’ comments echo typical remarks heard throughout town. The KWPD is not a major city tactical police force AND SHOULD STOP ACTING LIKE ONE! Too much testosterone, too many weapons, too many COPS shows watched, too little common sense, too much bullying, too little oversight.

  14. How long does this island have to endure the incompetence of the KWTD? Our sh*th**d Mayor and Commissioners are absolutely worthless. It’s obvious that Donie Lee may be the worst Chief of Police in the country but our fearless leaders sit on their hands and do nothing. We need to keep applying pressure until the bums do something. I will never let up until we get a new Police Chief and the thug officers are gone and hopefully behind bars. Mayor Cates prohibits negative posts to his Facebook page and Margaret Romero thinks our police did nothing wrong in the Eimers murder so I know who I’m voting for.

  15. If the FBI is as described, what’s the point of trying to get the FBI to investigate KWPD for behaving as FBI is described?
    If I were Commissioner Lopez and was in Tampa at an affordable housing conference and received such a call, I would have asked for the name and phone number of the person who had spread the rumor, so I could call that person and hear the basis for the rumor. I would want that information for myself and for Chief Lee.
    I’m still wondering why Clayton told the blue paper,
    ““It is extremely difficult to strike a balance between the need to stop the drug dealing and maintaining respect for the community”?That’s what caused me to ask Naja, was this a raid about a gun, or was it a raid about drugs?
    Clayton added, ““The solution is better communication, not militarized police and more Gestapo tactics.”
    I doubt better communication will slow down revved up kW cops like the ones this article depicts, and like the Charles Eimers blue paper articles depict.
    Why are those cops still in uniform, is my question? What does those cops still being in uniform say about Chief Lee, the City Manager and the City Commission, which consists of the mayor and six city commissioners?
    Why did the blue paper have to break this story? Why didn’t Chief Lee, the City Manager and the City Commission break it? Same question for the Charles Eimers story. I’m sure Naja and Arnaud and Dennis Reeves Cooper can add many more cases to my question.
    The problem is at the top, the City Commission. The City Manager answers to the City Commission. The Chief of Police answers to the City Manager. That’s the way Key West’s government is set up.
    Maybe the City Commission just doesn’t want to be bothered? Maybe they don’t want to scare off tourists? Maybe they just don’t care?
    They should be outraged over this blue paper article. Commissioner Lopez ought to be demanding an investigation of Chief Lee and his police department over this case. Same should have happened over the Charles Eimers case.
    I’d say the State Attorney should be all over this newest reported revved up cops case, but I’m reluctant to encourage that before I see what the Grand Jury does in the Eimers case, and what the State Attorney then does with the Grand Jury’s findings and recommendations, if any.
    It may be the only leverage citizens have to stop this kind of behavior by KWPD is to vote its elected officials out of office, as their seats expire, assuming they run for reelection.
    It also may be that packing Old City Hall at each city commission meeting and using the ending 3 minutes allowed to each citizen to speak to the Commission about anything, is a good way for outraged citizens to give the Commission a piece of their minds.
    What I don’t know is, how many citizens really are outraged by KWPD behavior and the City Commission not intervening? Are they a few, many, a great multitude?
    Are they willing to pack Mallory Pier and Duval Street by the hundreds, or more, as happened this afternoon during the Peter Anderson wake at Mallory Pier and then the parade up Duval Street to South Beach, where Charles Emers learned all about KW police last Thanksgiving Day?
    I saw Clayton Lopez at South Beach this afternoon. I hope while he was in Tampa, Clayton learned something that can be used to create a lot of affordable rental housing in key West.
    I can’t imagine going to the mainland to try to learn how to face and deal with what’s staring me dead in the face in Key West. The solutions are here, in Key West. Tough rows to hoe, though.

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