Jul 012016
 

Issue 92 KWPD Whitewash for web

by Arnaud and Naja Girard…….

This week The Blue Paper received a copy of the FBI’s investigative report on the in-custody-death of Charles Eimers.

About a year and a half ago Key West’s Citizen Review Board (CRB) wrote to the Department of Justice asking for an independent review of a drama that shook the town.  On the morning of his first day on our island paradise, 61-year-old tourist/homeless person, Charles Eimers, died in police custody.

Initially it was reported by KWPD that on Thanksgiving morning an older man who had collapsed on the beach while running away from police had been sent to the hospital where he later died due to a heart condition.

But the story quickly tuned into the case that just kept going from bad to worse. In a few months, it had inflated into a scandal involving accusations of destruction of evidence, witness intimidation, and criminal misconduct not only by KWPD officers but also by the FDLE agents sent to investigate them.

CRB member Tom Milone called the investigations conducted by KWPD and FDLE, “tainted, compromised, and unreliable.”

“We wanted to know what had happened to all the missing video, the recordings, “said Milone this week.  “Somebody had to look into all the inconsistent statements by the officers, the conflict of interest.”

FDLE had dismissed damning admissions made by one of the officers involved who had casually described how he and fellow officers had just “killed a man” while unaware that an open mic on his Taser was recording his every word.  “Me,” said Officer Gary Lee Lovette, “I dropped like a fucking bomb on his head!”

SEE RELATED: OFFICER GARY LEE LOVETTE: “ME, I DROPPED LIKE A FUCKING BOMB ON HIS HEAD!”

And as in all good police dramas of late, it included the providential discovery of a bystander video that flatly contradicted a seemingly rehearsed story previously told under oath by several officers.

“We wanted the Feds to do a complete investigation,” says Milone.

SEE RELATED: CITIZEN REVIEW BOARD SHOWS ITS TEETH 

We sent Milone a copy of the report we obtained from the FBI.  It ends with the following sentence:

“The government could not likely prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the subjects willfully deprived the victim of a constitutional right when they restrained him. Accordingly, this matter (…) should be closed. “

“I am extremely disappointed at the superficial nature of their investigation,” said Milone. “All they did was look at the other agencies’ investigations.”  Indeed, in its 4.5 page report the FBI basically repeated the findings of the Medical Examiner: Eimers could not have been smothered in the sand since the officers testified that Eimers face was never in the sand and that he had lost consciousness only after they tried to raise him to his feet. However, the Medical Examiner had not seen the second bystander video that shows Eimers face bloodied and covered in sand. There was an expectation that FBI investigators would present the Medical Examiner with this new evidence.  They did not.

Instead the FBI used the fact that no sand had been found in Eimers lungs to dismiss the possibility that he had been smothered. However, the Medical Examiner himself had noted that since Eimers had been on life support for one week prior to being taken off the ventilator any sand would have been naturally evacuated before he performed his autopsy:

Eimers ME case notes

“With sand – in fresh casemight find some sand in upper airway but he was in hospital for a week so less likely.”

The FBI did not conduct a reenactment of the “accident.” In an amateur reenactment it clearly appeared that when both shoulders are pinned down on dry sand the head turning from side to side [officer’s testimony] rapidly creates a sand berm that runs back into one’s mouth making it impossible to breathe.

SEE RELATED: REENACTMENT POINTS TO ASPHYXIATION

Many also hoped the FBI would use the beachside restaurant’s credit card data to track down a group of New York police officers who had witnessed the incident — one of whom had reportedly exclaimed to the crowd that they had witnessed “legalized murder on the beach” that morning.

Darren Horan, one of the attorneys who secured the $900,000 settlement against the City on behalf of the Eimers family, was not surprised by the FBI’s conclusion.

“Two guys from the Justice Department came to our offices and spoke with us,” said Horan this week,  “It lasted about ten – maybe fifteen minutes.  It was mostly us talking.  We told them everything. But you know how when you just look at someone’s eyes and you can tell they’re just not really interested? It was clear that they were not fully engaged. We would have been happy to have produced anything they wanted. By that time the civil case had already been settled so there were no outstanding issues there.  They didn’t ask us for anything.”

In the CRB’s petition, the FBI was not specifically asked to review the case with regard to the allegations of cover-up — such as the missing dash cam videos, the near-miss cremation of Eimers body before autopsy, statements made under oath by officers about Eimers’ face never having touched the sand or about his supposed attempt to escape after being handcuffed and lifted to his feet by the officers. The FBI looked only at the issue of excessive force and concluded that the second bystander video showed that no excessive force had been applied.

Yet for many Key Westers, the videos showed a man being fully compliant with police, lying on his stomach on the beach, being handcuffed. On the one audio recording that survived, Eimers is heard yelling loudly “Ow, you’re hurting me!”  He becomes agitated. Multiple police officers climb on top of him. Eyewitnesses claimed they saw and heard a stun gun being fired.  The autopsy would evidence deep lacerations on Eimers’ wrists and ten broken ribs.  After less than two-minutes of struggle it appears Eimers has stopped moving.  The video pans toward the street scape. Thirty seconds later when it returns to the beach, Eimers is about to be rolled over on his back. His face is covered with sand and there is blood coming out of his ear. The car he was living out of is parked on the sand overflowing with clothing and personal affects.

In their civil rights complaint, Eimers family’s lawyers claimed the City of Key West had a policy of being rough with homeless people like Mr. Eimers — especially when, like him, they began by disregarding officers’ demands; speeding away in the middle of a traffic stop.

Since then, KWPD has reviewed its policy on prone restraint: it now requires officers to monitor the suspect for vital signs at all times.

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey, concerned about the controversy, bought KWPD one hundred body cameras which officers must now deploy when making an arrest.

But many homeless people still claim to be regular victims of selective enforcement for just about everything, from drinking in public to sitting in a park or on a public beach, to being searched incessantly and treated roughly.

Key West is still using its police force to solve social problems. “It’s been an issue in Key West forever,” Sheriff Rick Ramsay told The Blue Paper back in December, “Twenty-five to thirty percent of inmates at the jail are homeless. This is nothing against KWPD, but we need to focus on solutions.”

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To see ALL Blue Paper coverage of the CHARLES EIMERS case click here.

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THE DOJ’S 4.5 PAGE INVESTIGATIVE REPORT BELOW:

Download (PDF, 191KB)

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  6 Responses to “FBI Releases Investigative Report on Eimers Death-in-Custody Case”

  1. “In their civil rights complaint, Eimers family’s lawyers claimed the City of Key West had a policy of being rough with homeless people like Mr. Eimers — especially when, like him, they began by disregarding officers’ demands; speeding away in the middle of a traffic stop.”

    That reads like homeless people in KW have vehicles and are in the habit of speeding away in the middle of a traffic stop.

    In fact, KWPD and the city government, view anyone living in a vehicle as both homeless and a criminal. A city ordinance makes it illegal to live in your vehicle. Eimers was homeless in that sense, but he was hardly your typical KW homeless person, who doesn’t have a vehicle, and either uses a bicycle, walks, or rides city transit buses.

    The officer who made the traffic stop, made the observation that Eimers seemed to be living in his vehicle, based on it being full of his belongings. The officer also reported Eimers was wearing a hospital outfit, like a hospital patient might wear. That he was talking strangely. That he said he came to Key West to do God’s work. And, inexplicably, so far, while the officer was back at his cruiser, perhaps running Eimers though the law enforcement computer, Eimers drove away without his driver’s license.

    He was slow-followed by officers through the city, to South Beach, where he then was treated kinda like a suspected Islamic terrorist, even though he obviously was unarmed and was complying with the officers commands.

    During citizen comments at a city commission meeting, I told the mayor and city commissioners their police killed Eimers because they believed he was homeless, and then a serious ruckus broke out from commissioners Mark Rossi and Tony Yaniz, against me. I thought they might have strokes, they were so upset with me.

    The backstory, I had many times spoken during citizen comments about city police, under orders from above, being too rough with homeless people; targeting them, trying to persuade them to leave this area. The mayor and city commissioners knew the backstory very well, before my saying, finally, their police had murdered Charles Eimers, which was when Rossi and Yaniz went bazookas.

    Tom Milone and Joe Pais, a former city commissioner, led the charge, against resistance on the CRB, to request the Department of Justice to review the Eimers case, after it became clear the local and state law enforcement authorities were corrupt. Kudos again to Tom and Joe for doing that. However, this ex-practicing lawyer’s opinion is Tom and Joe should not have been put in that position. The Eimers case should have been properly investigated and dealt with locally: by the chief of police, who answers to the city manager; by the city manager, who answers to the city commission; and by the city commission itself, because it was crystal clear the officers on top of Eimers on South Beach had gone cowboy.

    Also, the state attorney, Catherine Vogel, went out of her way to salt the grand jury she convened to “investigate” the Eimers case, so that the grand jury would return a “no bill”, meaning, no grounds for prosecution. Vogel went so far as to hire as her “expert witness” before the grand jury, a professional, for hire, man who made a living testifying in favor of police officers charged with misconduct. Vogel is up or reelection this year.

    Sheriff Ramsay is being worn out by KW putting homeless people in his jail. Homeless people tend to be addicts (booze, first, and other illegal chemicals). They go into the DTs, if they are kept long in the jail. They tend to have medical problems, which have not been getting treated, which the jail infirmary, and sometimes the nearby hospital, has to treat. They tend to be mentally ill and need meds.

    Sheriff Ramsay told me himself that he does not have to receive homeless people arrested for city misdemeanor violations, which is why homeless people usually are arrested. But he if started declining to receive homeless people arrested for violating city ordinances, the city police would then aggravate the charges to violations of state law, and he then would have to receive those homeless people.

    Aggravate, as in make up charges?, I said to Sheriff Ramsay. Yes, he said. And then the homeless people would be prosecuted by the state attorney; and they would end up with more serious charges and even convictions on their record; and the cases would be tried before local circuit judges, instead of in city court; and that costs the public defender’s office more time and money; and that drags in the probation office; and the costs to the local criminal justice system dramatically rise; and those costs are assessed to the homeless people, if they plead out or are convicted, making it even harder for them to get out of the local criminal justice system. So, Sheriff Ramsay said, he receives homeless people charged with violating city ordinances, to avoid all of that. But he doesn’t like doing it, and I don’t blame him.

    This is an old song. Police Chief Gordon “Buz” Dillon, a good friend of mine, told me back in 2002, as I recall, that his officers were spending a lot of their time enforcing the city’s social policy against homeless people, instead of doing police work. He didn’t like it. He had a few cowboy cops, who seemed to enjoy being rough on homeless people, and he reined in those cops. I bet he’d have gone through the roof over what happened to Charles Eimers on South Beach. And in that way, God’s work would have been done, albeit not as Charles Eimers envisioned when he told the officer he had come to Key West to do God’s work.

  2. I guess we see once again that “Rule of Law” is a charade. The FBI “investigation” is shameful, and a disgrace. It is another rude slap in the face to those that risked their lives and possibly had their lives destroyed by fighting to defend justice and freedom in this country.
    The “investigation” is a far cry from how the FBI is portrayed on TV. Yes, folks- if you have not realized it before, TV is strictly fantasy and ratings. It serves to mesmerize people into believing the mainstream illusion that serves to control what you believe and to transfer your wealth and/or labor to the benefit of the fabulously wealthy and powerful.
    Meanwhile, what can be done to remedy this travesty? Realistically, probably not much. However, politicians are running for office and trying to make folks think they are “for the People (voters)”, so publicly alerting them in a manner that causes them disgrace if they do nothing may be an option.
    Probably most FBI investigators were uniformed cops at one time? The blue “code of silence” rears its sinister head once again? We don’t need abusive or killer cops. They endanger those that are truly there to “protect and serve”. It takes good cops to weed their own garden of the noxious types. Apparently the FBI doesn’t have what it takes anymore. Maybe they never did. Sorry, Mr. Mulder- you portrayed a mythical beast.

  3. Nations, societies and civilizations have unraveled and come to their end via government abuses, cover-ups and violence perpetrated by them; upon their citizenry.

    Government sanctioned and protected assault under the stewardship of state attorneys, mayors, city commissioners, managers, police chiefs, law-enforcement investigators, federal agents and a silent 4th estate; are the designs of a fascist regime.

    Under such rule the myth of freedom, independence and liberty are a delusion and charade; marketed by the structures of power to keep their subjects in check.

    The diligent and steadfast investigation launched by Naja and Arnaud of “The Blue Paper”, gathered all the evidence necessary to charge and convict those responsible for the unnecessary assault and cover-up of the Charles Eimers’ killing.

    At present, I’ve reached out to team members who’ve secured the release of a man the State knew to be innocent; before they could murder (execute) him.

    It’s unsettling for me that some people who call themselves “officers of the court and law”, appear to have engaged in some very serious crimes, while conspiring to protect one another from the consequences of their behavior, through a series of cover-ups.

    Anyone familiar with the details of this case, knows that the findings and conclusions arrived at by those assigned to re-investigated this tragic incident; are half-baked, inaccurate and fraudulent…

  4. just can’t wait till nov for the results of the next national fiasco! if ya think things are bad now just wait for ‘IT’ coming to a theater near you. 🙁 please pass the popcorn…thankx

  5. I really didn’t expect the FBI investigation to come to any other conclusion. They are a branch of law enforcement and aren’t about to rock the boat against others in law enforcement. How much more proof did they need to arrive at the correct conclusion? There was video evidence proving wrongdoing and a huge cover-up by KWPD but obviously that wasn’t enough. They sure did a great job dropping the ball with the Orlando shooter. Any person on the street would have come to the conclusion that the guy needed to continue to be watched. People in this town need to stop being so complacent. There are far too many people who don’t care what KWPD does and far too many people who support them and will back whatever they do. We can start be getting rid of Catherine Vogel as our State Attorney. Her job in the Eimers Grand Jury was NOT to hire an expert to testify on behalf of the cops involved in the murder. She needs to go and become a defense attorney for KWPD.

  6. Bet Lee is smiling, he proved his cops can get away with murder. The FBI did not find anything because they did not want to. Lost all trust in them too.
    From our last 2 recent visits to KW for gay pride and 4 th of July we have reevaluated our opinion of KW and sad to say after 40 years of loving this town we will be looking for a better SAFER place to have our vacations. In short we no longer trust your cops. They are corrupt and that is a danger to everyone.

    What Duval street has turned into is a bunch of parking lots turned into bars ,each trying to play louder music than the one next to them. Hurts your ears to walk past them. Gas Monkey is the worst and hopefully will shut down soon. Take a look at it and you will see it is a dump trying to rich off of a name. Rum Runners did not even last a year but not surprised. Sadly we lost Cowboy Bills for them and now it is all closed. The pier show is not worth seeing anymore.

    Maybe the residents will get what they wanted and run tourists off. Will say that Lee has succeeded in running homeless off. They are not even at Ft Zack anymore.
    The rich are buying up every single family home they can to keep as second homes so housing is a serious issue for workers. Key West is not what it once was and will fail in time. Only voters can fix KW and they better do it soon or property values will drop .

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