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Family of man who died after police stop sues Key West

By Sean Kinney, KeysInfoNet.com

Key west policeThe family of Charles Eimers, who died after Key West police pulled him over in a traffic stop, has sued the city and 12 police officers for what it claims is a wrongful death due to excessive force.

The law firm of Horan, Wallace and Higgins filed the suit Friday in U.S. District Court. Judge Jose E. Martinez was assigned the case.

On Thanksgiving, police pulled over Eimers, 61, of Birch Run, Mich., on North Roosevelt Boulevard. Police say he pulled away from the stop, drove through Old Town and stopped his P.T. Cruiser at South Beach at the Atlantic end of Duval Street.

When he got out of his car, police took him down to his stomach and handcuffed him. They saw he "began turning blue," according to numerous reports.

Eimers was taken off life support at Lower Keys Medical Center on Dec. 4.

In the lawsuit, the Eimers family says "it is grossly apparent that the defendants asphyxiated Charles Eimers by forcing his face into the sand, causing him to inhale sand."

They are suing the city and officers Gabriel Garrido, Gustavo Medina, Kathyann Wanciak, Gary Lee Lovette, Matthew Johnson, Francisco Zamora, Thaddeus Calvert, Derek Wallis, Nicholas Galbo, Janeth Calvert, Pablo Rodriguez and Todd Stevens for unspecified damages.

Friday, City Attorney Shawn Smith said "to my knowledge, [Mayor Craig Cates] has not yet been served," as is customary when the city is a named defendant.

In the past, local police have been represented by lawyers affiliated with the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. The PBA was closed Friday.

After Eimers died, his body was transferred from the hospital to Dean-Lopez Funeral Home for cremation rather than to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy, as is required by law for deaths in police custody.

Eimers' body sat at Dean-Lopez until Dec. 11, when it was taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office. Medical Examiner E. Hunt Scheuerman did an autopsy the next day but didn't rule on a cause of death.

The lawsuit says the delay in transferring the body from the funeral home to the coroner was "a calculated plan to allow the destruction by cremation of key evidence of defendants' excessive force, reckless conduct and bad faith."

The autopsy revealed Eimers had 10 broken ribs when he died, but some medical professionals say broken ribs can result from efforts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which was done on Eimers.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is reviewing the circumstances surrounding Eimers' death. FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Friday the investigation remains active.

Eimers family attorney Jeanette Lewis of Weston said whatever the FDLE determines won't "have any bearing on our litigation. We don't believe they're investigating it fully."


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The police are becoming more and more militarized. They need to understand they work for the people. If not, they should be removed from their jobs. These cops need to be in prison.


Forget "militarized..." What is going on right now is that they are taking advantage of how easy they get off when they kill somebody. Have one of these sc*m bags be tried and convicted to some hard time, and you will see some change in policy and better behaviour by these cops and their depts. Until then, good luck!


I have an idea. How about don't run from the police? I am not saying that this person deserved to die but he is the one who put himself in harm's way. Let's lay the blame where it belongs. So many people die when fighting with or running from the people who are here to protect us.

Bill in IL

Must be nice to live in a fantasy world Kitano. They protected Mr. Elmers to death, which they do to people every day across the country. All for a traffic ticket. Only a fool wouldn't run from these criminal gangs in uniform.


Someone needs to end these scumbags.
Only when uniformed bodies start being discovered - by the dozens - in random dumpsters will this sort of thing stop.

You got it right, Bill - only a fool wouldn't run from these criminal gangs in uniform.


If a cop lives in your neighborhood, kill it. For the children.


Please note that the more often these pigs get away with the murder of an un-armed citizen the more often it is occurring. It will continue until the sheeple bet up off their collective asses, quit watching dancing with the bull-s**t and do something. The preferred offering is eye for an eye.

Once the pigs begin to find their own decaying in the woods, half eaten by whatever, only then will they understand that "it's time to reconsider" the actions they take against the American people


What has happened here is a lack of a written POLICY that COMMANDS officers to ensure that while they are "subduing" a suspect, that they are allowed to breathe, that is, if the suspect ran into knee deep water, they do not have the right to make them lay down face first in any substance that reasonable people would know could not be breathed through. And of course, because there is no previously written POLICY for the officer's to already KNOW about, they will be given yet another pass on yet another death. Neither you nor I know whether Charles already feared for his life, or began to fear for his life after the original stop, such that it would motivate him to risk being attacked later. The part that is missing, of course, is the officer claiming that "Charles was kicking them" or that "Charles had grabbed their testicles" or "Continued to resist arrest by raising himself off of the soft sand", (to breathe), but that is probably well written into the police report that we are not seeing.


One other thing to point out, it said that he had 10 broken ribs which can be a result from CPR. If you break ribs performing CPR, your'e doing it wrong. You can break the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the sternum, which is normal but you should never break the ribs themselves. So if he had broken ribs, the person doing CPR didn't know what they were doing or the broken ribs came from something else, or the report was written incorrectly to state broken ribs when they really meant broken cartridge.

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