by Arnaud and Naja Girard
FDLE’s investigative report in the Eimers case is finally in. No word yet on what the recommendations of the investigators are.
The office of State Attorney Catherine Vogel announced today that the matter of the Charles Eimers in-custody death will be presented for review to the Monroe County Grand Jury on July 21, 22, and 23rd.
That decision however doesn’t appear to be a direct consequence of yesterday’s filing of the FDLE Investigative Report since, according to Christopher Weber, Chief Investigator for the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office, Vogel had decided weeks ago to submit the case to the Grand Jury. The case has been assigned to prosecutors Val Winters and Mark Wilson, who will present the evidence.
According to sources “in the loop” at the office of the Monroe County Medical Examiner, FDLE had already presented their report to the State Attorney once before but the report had been sent back to FDLE with a request for more information.
Weber told The Blue Paper, The State Attorney’s Office would not be conducting their own investigation, but would be taking statements from anyone who might spontaneously come forward between now and 5:00 p.m. on July 7, 2014.
We have been reporting for several months that several employees at the Southernmost Beach Cafe, who were present the morning of Eimers arrest and who have important information concerning the case, were never interviewed by FDLE. The situation has triggered comments from members of the legal community, “A Grand Jury review could be premature,” says former State Attorney Dennis Ward, “if witnesses who are readily available have not been interviewed.”
The FDLE report has been described as nearly eight inches thick, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate a bounty of information, as it would likely include lengthy depositions and summary reports for as many as 13 police officers.
As to possible charges, officers could be facing assault or homicide charges, depending, in large part, on whether any officers came forward and testified against fellow officer[s].
And of course, there are the matters peripheral to the case: the violation of criminal statute regarding the handling of evidence, particularly relative to the failure to inform the Medical Examiner of Eimers death and to properly preserve medical evidence, like lab samples and Eimers body.
Criminal prosecution of excessive force cases is notoriously an uphill battle – tangled in political pressures. It seems that Catherine Vogel has chosen a politically conservative path: going far enough to initiate proceedings while leaving the final decision to prosecute or not to prosecute to a Grand Jury, yet in any case, choosing not to initiate her own criminal investigation.
For all Blue Paper coverage on the death of Charles Eimers click here.