Florida Retiree Dies in Police Altercation
When a loved one sustains a personal injury or wrongful death under uncertain circumstances, it can be daunting to consider taking action to find answers. In Florida, one family’s fight to understand why their family member died in a police altercation continues, fueled by the recent discovery of cell phone footage of the event.
Suspicious Circumstances Surrounding Death
On Thanksgiving Day, 2013, new retiree Charles Eimers was driving to his new retirement home in Key West when Florida police officers pulled him over for alleged reckless driving. For reasons still unknown, Eimers subsequently ran from the police to a nearby beach, where an altercation occurred. Accounts of the altercation differ: the police report claimed that Eimers resisted an officer “with violence,” but officers initially told paramedics that he merely collapsed on the beach on his own. Further, one cell phone video taken of the altercation, recorded by a bystander, shows Eimers’ surrender, before the police approached with guns drawn. The police claim that they only handcuffed Eimers. Whatever the case, the result was Eimer’s death in the hospital shortly thereafter, due to a lack of oxygen in his brain.
In addition to police brutality, Eimers’ family alleges that Key West police instituted a cover up. In addition to misreporting the events of the altercation on the police report and to the EMS, the police did not notify Eimers’ family of his condition until four days after the altercation sent Eimers to the hospital. Further, although Florida law requires an autopsy for anyone who dies in police custody, the body was instead sent to a funeral home where it was nearly cremated. The police conducted their own internal investigation, which concluded that Eimers’ face was not forced into the sand, that his face was on his side, that he was not bleeding, and that officers never even saw sand on his face.
New Evidence Comes to Light
Eimers’ family promptly filed a wrongful death suit against the Key West Police Department to ensure their rights were protected. A second cell phone video was recently discovered, which contains a close-up of Eimers’ face, covered in sand and bleeding. The video directly contradicts several officers’ sworn testimony, and while the video was available to police, it was not obtained prior to their presentation of evidence to the grand jury.
The discovery of yet another recording resulting in the suspension of a police officer. When the officer drew his taser during the altercation, it automatically began recording. Although the taser was not used, it recorded the officer bragging about Eimers’ death, stating that he “dropped like a f-ing bomb on his head.” The officer was suspended without pay for those comments and for comments he made to family and friends claiming that he had caused Eimers’ death.
Eimers’ family’s wrongful death case has been filed at a time of national controversy over police brutality, which has resulted in major protests in Florida. Many protesters hope to require police officers to wear cameras during even routine traffic stops. In Eimers’ case, the videos taken by bystanders may make a crucial difference in his family’s wrongful death suit.
If you have lost a loved one to police brutality or otherwise unfairly, do not hesitate to contact experienced Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney Scott Newmark in order to protect your rights and, if possible, obtain answers.