march for accountability
Photo courtesy Louie Wray

by Naja and Arnaud Girard

By the final days of 2014, the in-custody death of Charles Eimers had left many Key Westers with an uneasy feeling.

“It’s as though every agency we rely on,” said community advocate Christine Russel, “failed, one after the other, to shed any light on what happened. Instead, the cloud over that man’s death has only gotten bigger and darker.”

“They knew to call their attorneys within the next hour or so, but they didn’t secure the dashcam recordings, or the witnesses, and they almost cremated the body before autopsy,” said Satya [Katherine] Gregory, who participated in last Sunday’s march for police accountability in the death of Eimers that occurred on Thanksgiving day, 2013.

It seems as though 2014 was dominated by endless scandals of alleged cover-up, bursting one after the other like stinky bubbles from a poisoned soup.

This week The Blue Paper was able to review the recent deposition of E. Hunt Scheuerman, the former Monroe County Medical Examiner regarding his conclusions about Eimers’ in-custody death.

To rule the death an accident, he relied, he said, exclusively on the information provided by FDLE special agent Kathy Smith. Since then Kathy Smith has been put on administrative leave, pending investigation of mortgage fraud and perjury she allegedly committed with her ex-husband Scott Smith. KWPD Captain Scott Smith was the supervisor of operations at the time the Eimers incident occurred. That conflict of interest now seems like a run-away train. In his deposition, Scheuerman admits that Agent Smith never told him that witnesses stated Eimers face was covered in sand, or that three witnesses claimed a Taser had been used or that Eimers had blood running out of his right ear.

When asked if those facts [if true] would have changed his conclusions, “And specifically would or could cause you to change that manner of death to one from accident to one of homicide, correct?” Scheuerman answer was yes: “It could affect my determination of the manner of death.”

[At this time Scheuerman, the former Monroe County Medical Examiner, has been retained as a paid expert by KWPD.]

A common element among demonstrators was a strong sense of cover-up having reached the highest levels.

During his deposition, Scheuerman admitted that even if Eimers, who had been alive on life support for a week following the arrest, had died smothered in the sand the sand likely wouldn’t have been found in his airways at autopsy, “It’s the body’s mechanism of cleaning the airways. You have mucus glands that produce mucus and then you have hair cells that sweep up and out. And so you sort of clean foreign material out, your body does itself.”

However, it is clear from the report that the Grand Jurors were led to believe the absence of sand in Eimers’ airways was clear proof that he had not been smothered in the sand. That revelation brings yet more doubt over the already controversial Grand Jury deliberations.

“I don’t know if any of the officers are guilty of a crime,” said Gregory, “but I think there should have been a public trial with all of the facts for everyone to see.”

“Where to turn? Who can we trust?” asks Russel. Even in happy Key West on Sunday December 28, 2014, approximately 60 people of all ages were concerned enough to march down the streets asking for justice.

“What now?” we asked Louie Wray, one march organizer, “This is just the beginning. We are not going to give up. Who is ready to come back with two friends next time?”

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For access to all articles written by Naja and Arnaud Girard on the in-custody death of Charles Eimers click here.

 

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