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In today’s Citizen’s Voice – www.keysnews.com:
“Police officers lie on police reports and get away with it, unless a bystander just happens to video tape it. How can we trust your reports in the future?”
“The CRB again selected a former law enforcement officer as its Executive Director. When someone has served 20 or 30 years as a police officer, where do you honestly think their loyalty lies? What part of civilian oversight do the Citizen Review Board members not understand? The KWPD already has an inside police review process – Internal Affairs. It doesn’t need another one. Is it any wonder that people have virtually stopped coming forward and filing complaints with the Board? This is not what we, the citizens of Key West, fought and voted for.”
There is a front-page article in today’s Citizen – www.keysnews.com – on yesterday morning’s CBS video report on the death of Charles Eimers in KWPD custody last Thanksgiving Day. Unable to copy and paste the Citizen’s link to the CBS video report into this post today, I provided a different link : http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/death-in-paradise-retiree-dies-in-police-custody-after-traffic-stop/
Even so, thanks, Citizen, for making it easy for your online readers to see the CBS report.
Unfortunately, after using your link and finding it worked just fine, and after using the link sent to me, and finding it worked just fine, around 9:15 a.m. today, I tried the links again, including the ones provided in this post, and the link provided at www.thebluepaper.com, just to make sure all of those links were working okay, and none of them were working. Nor were other links to the CBS Eimers video I found online working.
Wondering if the CBS Eimers video links not working was isolated to my laptop, I rebooted it and still was unable to get any of the CBS Eimers video links to work. I called the Citizen and left a message that their link to the CBS Eimers video appeared no longer working as of around 9:15 a.m. today, nor were any other links I had for that video report working .
Anyway, my interjected thoughts on the Citizen article are in italics.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
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CBS report ‘one-sided,’ mayor says
Locals react to coverage of Charles Eimers’ in-custody death
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
A CBS television report on a man who died after a clash with police officers was one-sided and unfair to those who wear the badge, Mayor Craig Cates said Wednesday.
“It’s unfortunate they played that, with one side of the story and the investigation not completed,” said Cates. “The police officers have rights, too. We’re going by the letter of the law. Believe me, we would like to have this settled.”
So far, the only rights I have seen protected in this case have been 13 police officers’ rights.
The story Wednesday marked the first time a national news outlet has covered the case of Charles Eimers, 61, who died at a hospital six days after he turned blue during an arrest involving several Key West police officers.
Actually, Eimers died on South Beach. His body was revived and kept on life support, but for which his body still would have been dead.
It’s about time national exposure shined on the Eimers death, said one longtime Key West activist.
“I’m glad it’s out in the open,” said Erika Biddle, an advocate for the island’s homeless population. “Nobody in the city is taking responsibility. It’s ‘blame it on the dead guy.'”
Thank you, Erika.
Key West’s leaders, though, spent the day grappling with the 5-minute, 17-second story that includes Eimers’ oldest son saying police officers here “murdered” his father by holding him facedown in the sand at South Beach after a slow-speed car chase that began with a traffic stop in New Town.
The headline: “Death in Paradise: Retiree Dies in Police Custody After Traffic Stop,” stayed on the television screen during almost the entire piece, including an interview with Police Chief Donie Lee.
“It’s a huge story for such a small town,” said attorney Darren Horan, whose firm is representing the Eimers family in a federal lawsuit. “We’ve never had to face something like this, to see what happens when the bubble bursts. We live in a bubble. When that pops, it’s uncomfortable.”
Horan, a sixth-generation Conch, said the firm was hesitant at first to take the case.
He knows one of the officers involved in the arrest from childhood: Gary Lovette and Horan played soccer in Key West as kids.
“He lived in Key Haven, he was my neighbor,” Horan said of Lovette, who in the lawsuit is accused of making jokes about Eimers’ death.
Kudos to Horan for taking the case. Is Lovette the officer who bragged to a friend that he had elbowed the bum (Eimers) in the back of the neck or head? The CBS report did not say the KWPD suspected Eimers of being homeless, nor did the CBS report say the city has an aggressive homeless policy, which its police enforce, to rough up homeless people and try to make them want to leave the city and the Florida Keys.
Chief Lee told the CBS news team he couldn’t talk about the case as a matter of policy.
Since the Florida Department of Law Enforcement still has a pending investigation into the in-custody death, the final autopsy report that includes a cause of death remains sealed.
The local police department says it will launch its own probe once the state releases its conclusions.
In the CBS report, only Lee is quoted on behalf of the officers and city, while Eimers’ son is seen walking near the beach with the reporter.
Mayor Cates gave a written statement to the CBS producer Megan Towey, saying it would be inappropriate for the city to pressure FDLE into finishing up its review. But it wasn’t used in any of the coverage.
“Mr. Eimers’ death was tragic and we will honor his life by conducting ourselves responsibly with the highest level of scrutiny,” Cates wrote.
So far, the scrutiny seems to be a colossal joke, from the city and its police department up to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in Tallahassee.
The broadcast never mentions that the Eimers family is suing the city in federal court over the death, but a written story on CBS’s website reports the suit and interviews Eimers’ Key West attorney.
“It was sensational,” said Alyson Crean, the city’s spokeswoman and a former journalist, of the report. “I would have liked to have seen it mentioned there was a lawsuit. It’s a very emotional situation and until we know what the facts are it’s hard to know if it’s fair or not.”
Well, one fact, Alyson, is the KWPD gave you false information to tell the public, and when it later came out that it was false, you were put to correcting what you had previously told the public.
It’s been more than five months since Eimers died at Lower Keys Medical Center. On Dec. 4, his oldest son, Treavor Eimers, allowed staff to take his father off the ventilator that kept him breathing.
A blunder by police made it into the CBS piece: The detective assigned to keep tabs on Eimers once he was admitted to the hospital didn’t inform the family until four days after the Thanksgiving incident.
The same detective also failed to keep Chief Lee informed of Eimers’ condition, including his death, and was reprimanded and sent back to uniform and patrol car duty.
Because of the mistake, Eimers body was sent from the hospital to a local funeral home instead of directly to the medical examiner for an autopsy, which took place Dec. 12.
Commissioner Tony Yaniz said Wednesday evening he chose not to even watch the CBS report.
“I will not try anybody in the media, whether they wear a badge or not,” Yaniz said. “If the FDLE report comes out and there’s wrongdoing, I will be in line to make sure people who transgressed get castigated. But every American citizen deserves due process.”
My goodness, Tony. How can you be a city commissioner and decide not to watch that news video? Actually, Tony, the CBS report was kinder to the city than it could have been, which you would have known, had you watched the report.
Another commissioner, though, said watching the report — however unpleasant — was part of the job.
“Anytime they talk about ‘murder in paradise,’ it’s not really a positive headline, particularly in a tourist-driven economy,” said Commissioner Teri Johnston. “I don’t think they took any cheap shots. They represented the information that has been available to all of the commission. I certainly wish we weren’t in the position to even have to comment on this.”
Johnston said she is deeply concerned about the pending case and didn’t think it would take FDLE this long to complete its investigation.
“My greatest frustration is the length of time it’s taking,” she said.
According to Key West the Newspaper (www.thebluepaper.com), which broke the story, without which break there would be no story, FDLE only recently turned to interviewing the blue paper’s citizen witnesses. Only because of the blue paper did it come out that the FDLE investigator for the case is the ex-wife and the mother of the KWPD officer who supervised the accused officers. CBS left “and the mother of” out of its report. CBS also left out of its report that FDLE has a rule saying its investigators cannot investigate people with whom they have, or have had, close personal relations.
The Eimers family members are the ones truly suffering, their attorney said Wednesday. They have more questions than answers over Charles Eimers’ death, including why police reports describe him as resisting arrest while a bystander’s cell phone video shows him dropping to his knees in surrender before officers crowd over him.
The 13 police officers named in the lawsuit are doing just fine, said Horan.
“They have moved on, they’re all still working,” said Horan.
They can’t even touch a $100,000 life insurance policy since the FDLE investigation is preventing the release of an official cause of death.
Treavor Eimers told CBS that he will continue speaking out about his father’s death until all of his questions are answered. His lawyers were the ones who made the CBS story happen.
Eimers said hospital staff and the medical examiner told him there were no signs that his father had a heart attack. The preliminary report did show the 61-year-old had 10 broken ribs.
“We miss our dad; we miss him a lot,” Eimers told CBS. “My dad may not be able to say anything now, but he’s speaking loud and clear.”
Okay, the way I’m going to continue this post today is with emails I received yesterday about the video, and my replies to those correspondents. In the time order received by me:
Deer Ed, owner of www.bigpinekey.com‘s popular Coconut Telegraph kudos and whiners blog wrote to me:
My wife saw it this am and said they made the dead guy look bad by bring up his record of domestic violence.
hmmmm, don’t remember hearing anything before about domestic violence, not that has anything to do with what the KWPD did to him, unless you factor in that pesky thing called karma :-), maybe somebody taped the interview and put it on youtube – what a trip!
Nashville J came to the rescue:
I assume you may have seen this but just in case you did not – here is the CBS coverage.
No, I had not seen it and was hoping someone would tape it and turn it into a video. I just now watched it over several people talking here where I live, and I need to watch it again when it’s otherwise quiet. Looks like the family supplied the media with a photo of Eimers, which I have been using,
which doesn’t look much like him in the CBS video.
Glad I was able to be of help then!
I just finished watching the video again. First I’d heard Eimers was arrested for reckless driving. All I’ve heard, he was stopped for changing lanes. That was a very rough stretch of road with all the road construction. Also first I’d heard of Eimers’ prior run-ins with law enforcement. He looks a lot older and road-worn in the video, than in the photo the family furnished, which has been used in the blue paper and the Citizen, and in my posts. Eimers driving off without his driver’s licence being returned by the KW police officer still needs to be resolved. Makes no sense, unless he was under the influence or something else not yet revealed happened. Would you just drive off without your drivers license? I wouldn’t.
Shahdaroba Rodd (Hatman) copied me with this email to City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, in whose voting district I believe South Beach lies – South Beach is where Charles Eimers died under several KWPD officers.
CC: several private citizens’ email addresses omitted by me, Sloan
Subject: well you folks in Key West
Date: Wed, 21 May 2014 18:55:04 -0400
should sure be proud of yourselves now. WOW, look at all the publicity you got — for killing Mr. Eimers. It’s all over CBS news and The Morning Show. It’s my most sincere wish that all who were involved are fired, and then fired upon. and to all the powers that be in KW, all the city officials who have allowed this attitude of the KWPD to harass homeless, and worse, and then to lie about, you should be profoundly ashamed of yourselves. I hope the city is sued for so much money that you go bankrupt; the city is certainly deserving of that as a result of killing an innocent man.
for those of you who are up to date, go to CBS news and find the Morning Show and then you’ll see the story they did on how Mr. Eimers died at the hands of the KWPD.
Kill ‘Em Softly Kurt Wagner wrote:
Finally the whole country is finding out the truth about Key West police department. The Blue Paper, who kept this from being swept away like the homeless on Higg’s Beach, is owed a huge THANK YOU from every citizen of Key West. My only hope is that before this is over, the city has to pay mega millions to the Eimers family, and criminal charges are brought against those responsible for this massive cover up.
Now a big settlement will hurt Key West’s coffers, but the ‘Elite’ homeless haters of Key West will just have to pony up more in the way of taxes. They could always cut expenditures by dumping the Outer Mole and Swifty, or finding cheaper trash pickup or cutting numerous other way’s they waste money.
People can blame the homeless hating KWPD if they want, but that’s wrong. They take direction from the homeless hating commissioners. So do we blame the commissioners? No, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the homeless hating voters who put the commissioners in office.
As the Eimers case unfolds, why has the Mayor and the other commissioners been mute about this since day one? Not one word publicly from any of the commission. Mayor Cates, you and Wardlow, Johnson, Rossi, Lopez, Weekly and Yaniz should be ashamed to show your faces at a public meeting. You are the MFWIC. You all should resign effective immediately. You are the cover up.
Donnie Lee, you and your officers can say you were just following orders, but so was the Himmler and the SS.
US Virgin Islands
Soon to return to Key West
Tim Gratz of Key West wrote:
Like the idea of making Thanksgiving an Eimers Day.
[I recommended that in yesterday's the Key West City Commission should declare Thanksgiving Day the city’s Charles Eimers Day, and then the mayor and city commissioners should resign post at this website.]
I assume you saw the CBS and will report on it tomorrow. Best
I did not see it this morning, but someone sent me a link just for the Eimers part of the CBS Morning Show. I imagine I will cover it tomorrow, and a some people wrote in their sentiments. Hard to believe CBS did not credit the blue paper with breaking the story, without which CBS would have had no story to report.
Also hard to believe CBS didn’t mention Eimers was profiled by KWPD as homeless, or the friend of one of the cops’ statement that the cop bragged about roughing Eimers up, or the city’s aggressive homeless policy, which the police carry out.
Also am wondering why CBS did not say, not only is FDLE’s lead investigator the ex-wife of the police officer who supervised the 13 accused officers, she is the mother of his children and there is a procedure prohibition against her doing the investigation if it involves someone with whom she is, or was, closely related.
Mayor Cates is right: the CBS report was one-sided, in favor of the City of Key West and KWPD.
Perhaps the most troubling thing about the CBS report is it forced Mayor Cates and some city commissioners to go public, something the blue paper, the Citizen, private citizens, David Paul Horan and I were unable to get Mayor Cates and those commissioners to do. CBS’s report did something none of the rest of us could do: reveal to a national and international audience that all is not well in so-called paradi$e; tourist$ might not be $afe here.
Now, if the CBS Eimers video report really did go down off the Internet, that might be something else CBS might wish to investigate and report. Did CBS take it down? If so, why? Was the video report hacked? Will the video report be put back online?
Meanwhile, I wonder if CBS might be interested in doing a story on how dangerous the ocean is down here: how easy it is to go swimming or diving and, if you have a scratch or nick on you skin, end up with MRSA (flesh-eating bacteria), which is fatal, if not treated, and which is hard, or impossible, for modern medicine to treat, because it has developed resistance to modern antibiotics. Here are pretty images of MRSA in various stages of progression.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West