Inmate's Death Ruled a Homicide

Ruling prompts call for a special prosecutor to take another look at the case

By Allison Preston
|  Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012  |  Updated 11:43 PM CDT
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Inmate's Death Ruled a Homicide

AP

A  Lake County jail inmate’s death was declared a homicide Tuesday by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, prompting a call for a special prosecutor to take another look at the case.

Eugene Gruber, 51, died from multiple causes including spinal injuries from an altercation with a corrections officer, paraplegia, bronchial pneumonia, and dilated cardiomyopathy, Tuesday's report said.

Gruber had been arrested on Oct. 31, 2011 for disorderly conduct and criminal trespass to a residence. He was taken to the Lake County Jail in Waukegan and was reportedly uncooperative during processing, requiring him to be physically restrained and pepper sprayed, authorities said.

Gruber’s sister, Eileen Siwula, filed a federal wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit, claiming officers beat and pepper sprayed Gruber, then denied requests for medical assistance despite the presence of contracted medical personnel at the jail.

It was confirmed that Gruber received injuries on Oct. 31, 2011, but he did not die until 10:22 p.m. on March 3 at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the medical examiner’s office.  

The Lake County State’s Attorney office’s Special Investigations Division has conducted interviews, reviewed documents and videotapes, and determined on Jan. 23 that no criminal charge should be filed, said Christen Bishop, chief of the Special Investigations Division.

“[The autopsy] does not appear to raise any new issues, however, due to their findings...we are asking that the state’s attorney’s appellate prosecutors office review our investigation and the findings of the medical examiner’s office,” Bishop said.

Bishop also stated that the medical examiner’s office’s use of "homicide" is meant to mean one person caused the death of another, but does not necessarily mean a death is criminal.

Results from the March 4 autopsy are still pending and further investigating will be done. 

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