An Illinois city has hired a private attorney to investigate its police department over the death of Eric Lurry while in police custody a little over a year ago.
According to CBS News, city leaders in Joliet agreed to hire the attorney to investigate the Joliet Police Department in part because of a disturbing dashcam video of Lurry’s arrest that leaked last summer. In January 2020 Lurry was placed in custody by Joliet police in a drug arrest.
Dashcam video obtained by WBBM-TV last July shows Lurry in the back of the police cruiser suffering from an overdose while in custody. Sgt. Doug May is seen in the footage slapping Lurry multiple times in the face and telling him to “wake up, bitch,” while he was handcuffed in the back of the cruiser. May then begins to pinch Lurry’s nose shut for 1 minute and 38 seconds.
Joliet police Sergeant Javier Esqueda, who was put on administrative leave for leaking the dashcam video, said that while Lurry may have swallowed a bag of drugs at the start of the arrest, May handled the situation the wrong way by closing off his air supply. “That’s been written in the law for a couple years. You can’t do that anymore to try to get him to cough up any kind of drugs in their system,” Esqueda told WBBM-TV in an interview last July.
At another point in the video, an officer could be seen placing a baton down Lurry’s mouth. The cops eventually decided to treat Lurry like a human and took him to a hospital where he died hours later.
The Will County coroner called Lurry’s death accidental, saying he had “fatal doses” of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in his system in a statement last July. “The levels or concentrations were over 10 times the fatal range,” the coroner added.
It’s unclear what the scale of the investigation will be and what exactly the attorney will be investigating. The officers involved in the arrest weren’t criminally charged in the arrest, as the county prosecutor’s office ruled last July that Lurry’s death “did not result directly from any action or inaction by an officer of the Joliet Police Department.”
I mean, ya know, I’m not a medical expert, but I feel like taking dude to the hospital immediately would’ve been a lot more helpful in preventing his death than slapping him, calling him a bitch and putting a baton down his mouth.
A federal lawsuit has been filed against the city and the officers involved in the arrest by Lurry’s widow.