Chief Donie Lee Releases Review of Arrest of Homeless Man that Led to Officer Reprimand

This week the Blue Paper received a copy of KWPD’s investigation of the controversial arrest of a homeless man in front of the Key Plaza Publix grocery store on February 4th.

The review by the Professional Standards Division resulted in a reprimand of Michael Chaustit, one of the officers involved.

At the time, a legitimate story about use of force turned into an intense argument between Trump supporters and liberals on our Facebook page with the ‘blind yelling at the deaf’, about what the police should do or not do while policing the homeless.

This week we publish KWPD’s report in its entirety, hoping it will help recenter this subject away from national politics back to the wise management of our lives on the island.

[gview file=””]

Facebook Comments

14 thoughts on “Chief Donie Lee Releases Review of Arrest of Homeless Man that Led to Officer Reprimand

  1. So in short Lee told him “bad cop no doughnut ”

    Lee seems to agree that the wrong charge was applied. With that being the case then the trespass charge needs removed from the record. Yes , likely could charge him with disorderly. I see nothing of much more than a reprimand on policy. Now if Knight was smart he would hire a lawyer for false arrest (note the trespass charge was false) and assault if improperly ordered to stop. This can and will only happen if Knight files a charge and likely he will not because he wants to stay alive and remain in KW. Look at the Eimers murder of a man that did try to surrender. KW is a time bomb waiting on arresting the wrong person that has money the go after it. Then maybe voters will care when stuck with more than insurance can cover. Eimers case should have been over 5 million and stuck the tax payers with a bill.

    This leaves a huge question of was the arrest legal or not. Had his camera been on we would hear the words KWPD STOP but we don’t. This leaves question of did Knight know who told him to stop ? Did any witness here the cop saying KWPD or even POLICE ? If yes then perhaps legal to use force. See how a camera could change results to positive. But even Lee basically is saying the arrest and assault are over the name calling.

    1. Jim, you’re obviously hung up on words. Knight clearly understood that the POLICE were rousting him from his nest. There was no further need to shout their authority.

      Knight served his requisite 21 days. Just let it go at that. The arrest was entirely “legal”. It happens several times a day in Key West…get used to it. As it turns out, it is perhaps the most compassionate treatment we can accord these folks.


      1. Dickford , you are the one that seems has the problem with words. You are missing the key point here. Knight was woke up and instructed to leave or be arrested. Even Lee admits the case was closed when he walked away as ordered. So everything after that second becomes a NEW CASE. What started the NEW arrest was name calling. So yes using foul words could be used as a charge of disturbing the piece. The man at this point is walking away so unless he hears the important words of POLICE then he does need to stop. Note that this is a NEW case and needed handled as such. Were his words any worse than the cops ? Actually very similar. How would a cop normally deal with someone using the same words ? Likely would announce who he was and order him to stop and then would give him a warning to stop. But that is not what happened. How often cops misuse the badge is not involved here. Yes can understand the cop tired of verbal abuse and dealing with homeless but he was trained to tolerate it and trained to use his body cam. We all know cops will use the cams as they wish. Had it been all recorded just maybe he did everything by the book. The outcome is exactly as I expected because cops never do anything wrong. Am 100 % in favor of removing all of the homeless but do it legally. Tax payers money was wasted again. Started by the cost of sending the cops, then add in court to plead guilty and then 21 days of bed and food. And top it off with the cost to review.

        1. Well, Jim…let’s just agree that it’s an imperfect system and let it go at that, eh?

          As the property owner/manager, what would have been your approach?


          1. As the property manager I would done exactly what this one did and call the cops. As to the second half as a manager it would be in the best interest of the customers to let the man keep walking. Dam sure would not wanted to see a man beat up. Yep scare the hell out of kids, that will teach them to trust a pig.

  2. Thank you very much for publishing the entire report on an issue that the local media have fairly well ignored. Once again, you have demonstrated your importance to the community.

  3. Dear Editor,

    I must disagree, in the main, with your characterization of events vis-à-vis the Knight incident:

    “At the time, a legitimate story about use of force turned into an intense argument between Trump supporters and liberals on our Facebook page with the ‘blind yelling at the deaf’, about what the police should do or not do while policing the homeless.”

    The many comments here added immeasurably to the controversy. This was not an “intense argument” between “Trump supporters and liberals”. Where did you get that impression? Most of the responders expressed themselves openly and honestly: That is deserving of respect…not dismissiveness. Of course, I am referring to the discourse here…NOT on your FaceBook page. FaceBook is for mental midgets. I would never go there. Ever!

    You’ve received a mostly civil audience here. Please respect that. Whatever y’all do on FaceBook is up to you.

    I readily understand the strain y’all labor under. Still…you need to distinguish between true friends and the riff-raff.

    My thoughts…FWIW.


    1. Dickford, we did specify that were speaking of the discourse that had occurred “on our Facebook page”. There were hundreds of comments… We did not mean to dismiss in any way those who had commented here on our website. Thanks for pointing out that there could have been some misunderstanding about that.

      1. Thank you.

        I just felt the need to clarify things. For the most part here, I found the responders to be respectful, disciplined and polite. That should be appreciated in these times, compared with the junque that is out there in that “vast wasteland” we call the internet. That includes FaceBook, in particular…


    1. Yes, will never forget seeing the KWPD MURDER that man.
      And from what was given as details that man was not homeless. Simply viewed as homeless because his belongings were in a PT cruiser from a very long trip and he likely was very tired from his trip. Hard to believe they needed a dozen cops to arrest a man that did exactly as ordered.

      1. You must have “permanent residency” status for the 5 year period (3 years if married to US Citizen) before applying for Citizenship. These giys dont have that status. They were allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons and given legal right to work and social security number for paying taxes. Jean Dervil, married to US Citizen, has an application pending for “permanent residency” status.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.