A Florida police officer was suspended for five days after a recording revealed him apparently bragging about causing the death of a tourist during an arrest attempt last year.
Charles Eimers told officers he was “working for the God Almighty” when he was stopped in Key West for a routine lane change violation on Thanksgiving 2013, and police said he sped off and led them on a nine-minute pursuit, reported the Miami Herald.
The 61-year-old retired autoworker eventually stopped his car and lay down in the sand on South Beach, where police said he resisted arrest “by pulling and thrashing.”
Officer Gary Lee Lovette grabbed his Taser but did not use the weapon, and police removed Eimers’s handcuffs and attempted CPR after noticing he’d turned blue and fallen unconscious.
An autopsy shows Eimers died from previously diagnosed heart problems, but his family says in a lawsuit that he inhaled sand after police forced his head onto the ground.
A grand jury cleared the officers after witnesses testified that police never struck the Michigan man in the head or forced his face into the sand.
Lovette was suspended without pay after a Taser recording captured the officer saying he “dropped like a f-ing bomb on his head.”
An internal affairs investigation also faulted Lovette for comments he made at a Key West cupcake shop that indicated he had caused the tourist’s death.
But police concluded those comments, some of which were made to co-workers and family members, were “lies and exaggerations concerning his actions during the Eimers incident.”
Henry del Valle, another officer involved in the incident, received a letter of reprimand for failure to operate his emergency lights and sirens at all times during the pursuit of Eimers.
Both officers can challenge their punishments, which police said were policy issues that “had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Eimers’ death.”