Key West’s tiny but mighty weekly online blue newspaper deserves Pulitzer for bravely breaking and its onging relentless and extensive courageous coverage of the death of suspected homeless man Charles Eimers under Key West police last Thanksgiving Day and the ensuing cover up

Arnaud GirardNaja

Arnaud and Naja Girard, Co-Publishers of Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com

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I pulled this today from the Key West Police Department’s website:

Police Week
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Mayor Craig Cates, at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, proclaimed the week of May 11th as Key West Police Week.

Message from the Chief

Donie Lee 2

Welcome to the Southernmost Police Department in the continental United States. The Key West Police Department is a state accredited organization made up of dedicated and professional men and women. Our island is home to a unique and diverse community, which is reflected throughout the ranks of the department. We protect and serve a population of 25,000 full-time residents, with over two million visitors each year. Whether you are visiting the island or you are lucky enough to call Key West your home, please be safe and enjoy your time in Paradise.

Chief Donald J. Lee, Jr.

Our Vision

The Key West Police Departments envisions itself as a professional department guided by our values to make Key West a safe place to live, work and visit.

Our Mission

The mission of the Key West Police Department, in partnership with the community, is to provide effective and efficient police services.

Core Values

Respect:

A comfortable and healthy work environment must first start with mutual respect among members of our Department. Likewise, a community that respects its police department and its members must first start with members of our Department always demonstrating understanding and sensitivity to all of those in our community with whom they come in contact.

Integrity:

Ethics and honesty are perhaps the most valuable traits a law enforcement officer can possess, an essential element in gaining the trust and confidence of the public.

Fairness:

It is important that every law enforcement officer be able to make objective and impartial decisions based on the law and the facts at hand. Just as important, is his ability to exercise discretion, always using fairness as his guide.

Service:

We must always strive to provide a positive and professional response to the needs our residents and visitors.

From today’s Citizen’s Voice in the Key West Citizen, the Florida Keys’ only daily traditional newspaper   - www.keysnews.com:

“Silence is not golden. Silence gives consent that you agree. Which of our elected officials is going to speak up and tell us they will do everything they can to see that the truth (whatever that is) will come out in the Charles Eimers case. Tony Yaniz — step up. You march to your own drum — speak up, please. Now the world knows what happens in Key West. Would you come to our ‘paradise?’ Paradise lost a long time ago.”

Charles Eimers CBS

Charles Eimers, R.I.P.

I learned yesterday of Rick Boettger’s article in KONK Life - www.konknet.com – on the recent CBS Eimers report. Rick receives my daily ravings, and he has told me numerous times that he reads them, and quite a few times he has emailed me kudos and encouragement. The words in Rick’s Eimers article were all run together. As far as I know, that was not fixed by Rick nor by KONK Life. I took a while to fix it, so you can read his article. My interjected thoughts in italics.

KONK LIFE EDITOR RM — THU, MAY 22 2014

THE BIG STORY

Was CBS Fair?

BY RICK BOETTGER

Rick Boettger

The CBS Morning News aired a 5-minute segment titled “Death in Paradise” about the demise of Charles Eimers last Thanksgiving while being handcuffed by police after driving away from a traffic stop. Mayor Craig Cates went on the record saying the report was “one-sided.” However, the report was, if anything, overly generous towards our fair town, and critical of the late Eimers.

Agreed.

First, they charge Eimers with “reckless driving” when what he made was an illegal lane change in a construction area with unclear lane designations. Next they said he “fled the scene,” when in fact he drove away slowly through the town.

Worst, their only original research not already reported locally stated that he “had previous run-ins with the law, including arrests for domestic abuse and theft back in the ’90s.” That is, 20 years ago, he had arrests, but apparently no convictions, for things that  had nothing to do with his actions here. It causes a mistrial in court, and is plainly prejudicial in the CBS report. It would be more appropriate to discuss the 20-year records of the arresting police, because the violence was all on their side in Eimers’ arrest.

Amen.

Finally, CBS quoted arresting officers claiming Eimers resisted arrest “with violence,” so much so that one”officer’s finger got caught in the handcuffs”during the struggle.The fact is that those police reports were written five days after the accident, but before the cell phone video surfaced showing that Eimers slowly turned, raised his arms to obey police commands, and carefully lowered himself to the ground.

Eimers’ “struggle was not to resist the police. It was to gain a breath as he was being suffocated under a wave of large bodies crushing him into the sand, as plainly shown in the shocking video.

Amen.

CBS highlighted our youthful, telegenic police chief Donie Lee three times, allowing him to appear both concerned with the truth, and responsibly following policies making him do nothing about Eimers’ death. The title of the piece, displayed throughout on a line at the bottom, called us “Paradise.”

As Rick wrote to begin his article, CBS’ title was, “Death in Paradise”.

With beautiful footage, CBS describes us as “the island paradise for sun and sand…best known for its beaches, bars and laid-back lifestyle.” For Eimers, “It was a dream retirement …He wanted to come south to warmer weather and walk on the beach.”Our Tourist Development Council pays highly for such praise.

So those were CBS’ editorial slants, praising Key West and impugning Eimers. What the Mayor and other city representatives complained about was not editorial bias, but the plain undeniable facts, which,unfortunately for us all, are damning:

Initial police reports of Eimers running and collapsing, and later of his struggling to resist arrest, were proven false by the video.

A bystander’s cell phone video, which was smuggled to Key West the Newsopaper – www.thebluepaper.com – which local online newspaper broke the Eimers story with the bystander’s video, so blue paper readers could see what really had happened. Angels arranged for the video to be shot by the bystander, so KWPD and Key West wouldn’t get clean away with it.

Eimers’ family was not notified for four days that he was on life support.

Instead of being sent, [as required] by [state] law, to the Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy, his body was sent to a local funeral home, narrowly avoiding cremation.

Eimers’ body was sent to the funeral home to be cremated, but somehow the funeral home didn’t get around to doing it. Somehow, caused by angels, so there could be an autopsy.

The autopsy showed that Eimers had 10 fractured ribs and bruises and abrasions on his wrists from handcuffs, and did not die of the heart attack that police had blamed for his death.

The supposedly independent investigating agency [Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)] that everyone is still waiting for, after six months, to conclude, is led by a woman [FDLE's special agent in charge of the investigation] who used to be married to the supervisor of the officers involved, all of whom are still on active duty. (CBS did not add that she is also the mother of their child.)

Nor did CBS add that FDLE has a rule against its investigators investigating people with whom they have, or have had, a close personal relationship. 

The lawyers for Eimers’ children have been denied access to the police dashboard videos, the witnesses at the scene of the death, and the final autopsy report—so they cannot even collect his modest life insurance policy.

Not having the final autopsy also delays the Eimers children’s lawyer having that evidence to aid the prosecution of the federal civil rights lawsuit he filed against 13 KWPD officers and Key West.

CBS avoided completely the most controversial element of the case, that police profiled Eimers as a homeless person, because his car was filled with his belongings. That would lead to discussing our Paradise’s major homeless issue, [and Key West's official fake "One Human Family" philosophy] and how our police have been tasked with “handling” them, which tacitly involves rough treatment.

It’s not tacit. KW police are following unwritten directive from the top, the Key West City Commission, to make homeless people as miserable as possible, hoping to cause them to leave Key West and the Keys.

The only person [in CBS' report] with a clearly negative opinion, more than reporting objective facts, is Eimers’ son, Treavor. He states that his father was “murdered” and that the police have “lied” to him. That is not CBS’opinion, it is Trevor’s, and he is entitled to have and express it. Especially since he is overwhelmingly likely to be proven right.

Amen.

None of us wants to believe it, but sometimes we have to face the truth in order to make amends and stop it from happening again.

Some of us have no trouble believing it. We know what the KWPD is capable of, because we saw it before Charles Eimers came to Key West. We saw the City Commission ignore that, too, and thus encourage it.

STEPHEN MIZNER
Fri, May 23 2014 at 9:48 am — Reply
Please fix the way this page renders. There are no spaces between words (in Firefox, at least).

RALPH
Fri, May 23 2014 at 9:49 am — Reply
WOW! That was really [intentionally?] hard to read.

RICK
Fri, May 23 2014 at 2:01 pm — Reply
once again, ugh. what port, where? there port.

Bizarre.

cracked egg

CBS, the Citizen and Rick Boettger/KONK Life don’t give the blue paper credit for breaking the Eimers story, so they then could report it as if they were breaking the story. The only way to keep up with the Eimers case is to read the blue paper’s articles.

Here is the blue paper’s – www.thebluepaper.com – latest article on the CBS report on the death of Charles Eimers underneath Key West Police. At the end of the article is a link to all blue paper articles on the Eimers case. Two reader comments follow the article. One by me, which I published yesterday at www.goodmorningkeywest.com, and a later comment by another reader. I added the You Tube link in the blue paper article.

CBS: “DEATH IN PARADISE”

death in paradise one

[http://youtu.be/1H1mt6q_ZCs  - You Tube link to CBS report furnished by Key West's illustrious vicious van dweller criminal Hatman,

Hatman

who recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida, after being beaten black and blue by the KWPD for about as long as I knew him in Key West - I arrived in late 2000]

The CBS News report on the death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day finally aired last Wednesday morning.  CBS News filmed a portion of their ‘CBS This Morning’ show on South Beach, where the arrest of Eimers by multiple Key West police officers occurred.

But the television report focused less on the arrest itself and the possible use of excessive force leading to Eimers’ death than on what happened after the arrest. They showed excerpts from medical records that show that police apparently claimed Eimers ran away, resisted arrest, and did not have a pulse by the time the police got to him.  An account which was then flatly contradicted by a video shot by a tourist, which shows a radically different version of the facts.

CBS picked up on the fact that police very nearly allowed Eimers’ body to be cremated before the required autopsy and the fact that the FDLE investigation everyone has been endlessly waiting for is headed by FDLE Special Agent Supervisor Kathy Smith, who is the ex-wife of KWPD Captain Scott Smith, the supervisor of the officers involved.

Mayor Cates declared  the CBS report one-sided and unfair to the police.  Cates told the Key West Citizen on Thursday, “The police officers have rights too.  We’re going by the letter of the law.”

Arguably, however, it is the fact that both FDLE and KWPD seem to have lost all of their rulebooks on how the investigation should be conducted that brought the affair to national attention.

Under Florida Statute 406.12 any death in custody must be reported to the medical examiner.  However, the funeral home, the medical examiner, and KWPD have all admitted the body was very nearly cremated prior to autopsy.

Under FDLE’s Ethical Standards of Conduct Rule 7.1, an agent is prohibited from getting involved with an investigation concerning a relative [or former significant other].  Therefore Kathy Smith should not be involved in evaluating the responsibility of her ex-husband and father of her child, Captain Scott Smith, in the mishandling of Eimer’s body, which is a criminal matter under Florida Statute 406.12.

Then, there is the lying to medical personnel who came to rescue Eimers. Under KWPD Policy 02.08.06 officers have the duty to make sure the arrestee is provided adequate medical care.  Certainly claiming Eimers had no pulse when they got to him after he “collapsed” instead of describing the violent arrest and possible asphyxiation was not the best way to guarantee “adequate medical care”.

If Mayor Cates decided to actually open those books, as indicated in his “letter of the law” comment, he would have to accept that procedures are not being respected.

This is what “FDLE’s book” says:

“Pending the arrival of FDLE personnel, the ranking member of the host agency [KWPD] will insure that the scene remains secured, physical evidence is preserved and that all enforcement and citizen witnesses are identified and separated pending initial interview.” [Memorandum of Understandingbetween FDLE and KWPD]

Now it is clear that none of that happened.  According to an eyewitness, not only were many of the witnesses driven out of the area while Eimers was still lying motionless on the beach, but those remaining on scene [because they worked there] were intimidated by KWPD officers, at least one of whom had been physically involved in the incident that led to Eimers death.

Yes, the national media coverage is a black-eye to Key West, but the media attention and the lawsuit [which some believe to be premature] was precipitated by the fact that it had become absolutely obvious that the investigation was not occurring by the “letter of the law” and that crucial evidence was being lost or compromised. ”It is an uncontroverted fact,” says David Paul Horan, an attorney representing the Eimers family, “that people’s memories do not improve with time.”

With all due respect to the Chief and Mayor Cates, something had to be done before all of the witnesses disappeared or were influenced or had simply forgotten what the facts were.  Today, nearly six months later, key witnesses, interviewed by the Blue Paper, have still not been contacted by FDLE.

If truly, no one was at fault, the officers behaved appropriately, and the City doesn’t have a policy to rough-up homeless people and to tolerate violent behavior from officers, then why the lies and cover-up?

Stay tuned.

To access all Blue Paper coverage on the death of Charles Eimers click here.

Key West The Newspaper [The Blue Paper] encourages spirited, open debate in comments on our stories. We do ask that you refrain from profanity, personal attacks and remarks that are off point. Please join the conversation!

2 COMMENTS ON “CBS: “DEATH IN PARADISE””

SLOAN BASHINSKY MAY 23, 2014 AT 8:51 AM
Thanks for yet another excellent article and a link to the CBS video. Hard to believe CBS did not credit the blue paper with breaking the story, without which CBS would have had no story to report. I think the blue paper should receive a Pulitizer for its coverage of the Eimers case.

So far, the only rights I have seen protected by the authorities in the Eimers case are police officers’ rights.

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.

In yesterday’s Citizen article on the CBS report, Mayor Cates was quoted as saying the coverage was “one-sided” (against the city). If you factor in (or out) what CBS knew but did not include in its report, then the report was one-sided in favor of Key West.

Some examples:

CBS did not report KWPD and Key West public relations officer Alyson Crean, former Bureau Chief of the Keynoter, put out a public statement after the blue paper broke the Eimers case; then, after Alyson learned from the blue paper, the Citizen, and others, that what she had put out was not correct, she never retracted it.

CBS did not report Eimers was profiled by KWPD as homeless, or a statement by one of the cops’ friends that the cop had bragged about roughing the bum (Eimers) up.

CBS did not report the city’s aggressive homeless policy, which the police inflicted on Eimers.

CBS did not report Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) have not yet interviewed a number of civilian witnesses to what happened at South Beach.

CBS did not report FDLE investigator Kathy Smith is the mother of KWPD Captain Scott Smith’s child and there is an FDLE procedure prohibition against its investigators investigating someone with whom they are, or were, closely related.

CBS did not report that, prior to CBS doing its investigation, Mayor Cates and the city commissioners had been silent about the Eimers case, and only broke their silence when CBS came to Key West.

Bottom line: Eimers was profiled by KWPD as being homeless and the rest is history.

Maybe the CBS report will seize the interest of the US Department of Justice and the F.B.I. I recall a young black male being profiled in Sanford, Florida, and President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, the F.B.I., the NAACP, etc., not to mention Florida Governor Rick Scott, went all out to get to the bottom of it.

An Internet friend in Nashville, who has been following the Eimers case, wrote to me yesterday:

” If anyone takes the time to look at the bystander’s video, it is perfectly clear that the KWPD are lieing.”

I replied:

“Yep, when Eimers ran out of air with his face and nose stuck in the sand and several cops on top of him making sure his face and nose were stuck there, and one cop elbowed Eimers in the back of the head, or was it the neck?, his innate natural survival instinct kicked in and he started squirming, wiggling and kicking like crazy to get air. Perhaps fitting justice for the cops on top of him is to get the same treatment until they quit squirming, wiggling and kicking, so they can know the truth that will set them free, but into what?”

During closing citizen comments at Tuesday’s Citizen Commission meeting, I said, approximately:

“I learned earlier in the day from Tom Milone that CBS will cover the Charles Eimers case the next morning, nationally. This is the result of Key West the Newspaper, the blue paper’s reporting. I told you during an earlier commission meeting that Charles Eimers’ death was the direct consequence of the city’s aggressive homeless policy, which you set; a policy your police use to make homeless people as miserable as possible, hoping to get them to leave Key West and the area. You know from the blue paper’s reporting, including the bystander’s video, that there is a terrible problem in your police department. Yet, so far, I have not heard that you publicly expressed remorse. I have not heard that you publicly apologized to the Eimers family. That is outrageous. It is unconscionable. I think you should resign.”

During their closing comments, Mayor Cates and the commissioners (Commissioner Weekley was out of town) said nothing about the Eimers case. Instead of talking to their citizens in the audience and watching on TV, the mayor and some of the commissioners talked to CBS and to the Key West Citizen.

REPLY
FORMERBANKER MAY 23, 2014 AT 11:02 AM
It seems the practice of abuse by cop, lies, and cover-ups are just SOP in the KWPD. And covering for the cover-up seems to be what our elected officials are busy doing. Seriously Mr. Mayor, the CBS report was one sided? Why? Just because they didn’t read your letter? Have you been paying attention? Have you been reading TheBluePaper.com?
TheBluePaper.com broke this story months ago, and has been reporting about this incident continuously. Thankfully the national exposure of this story will (should) put some pressure on the city leaders to see that justice is done. By all appearances, it seems that the KWPD, at the least, is incompetent, but more likely is guilty in abetting in the cover-up. And then there’s the FDLE. Are they colluding with the KWPD? Or are they simply as incompetent as the police department?
The sad reality is this type of behavior is unfortunately not isolated to the Key West community. Ignorant and/or crooked politicians are everywhere. So are dirty, abusive “law enforcement” agencies. The media MUST continue to report on these events and the public needs to pay attention.
This may sound like I’m anti-cop but I’m not. As I’ve said before, I don’t envy a cop’s job. They deal with stupid and sometimes violent people way too much. But that being said, it does not give them the right to be abusive in general, nor to take the law into their own hands.
Thank you TheBluePaper.com, and yes, thanks to CBS This Morning for the reporting of this story. I know TheBluePaper.com will continue following this but I hope that CBS, and other national news outlets, will follow it as well. I know the Chamber of Commerce, the TDC, and our elected officials are not happy about this and are probably pooping in their collective pants. But what they aren’t happy about is that this story is gaining traction and has now hit the national news, and that might hurt the precious tourist industry. What they should be concerned with is making sure the tourists, as well as the local citizens, are kept safe and informed by the PD and the local government.
Keep up the good work!

Bizarre. Repeat. Bizarre.

cracked egg

CBS, the Citizen and Rick Boettger/KONK Life don’t give the blue paper credit for breaking the Eimers story, so they then could report it as if they were breaking the story. The only way to keep up with the Eimers case is to read the blue paper’s articles, a link to all of which is provided at the end of the blue paper article above.

Sloan at HH

Sloan Bashinsky

keysmyhome@hotmail.com

 

About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; single; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days on this website, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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