More than five months after Eric Lurry died while in police custody, dashcam video of the incident has been obtained by NBC 5 News, and the man’s family is demanding answers about the actions taken by officers on that fateful night.
Lurry’s wife Nicole finally got to see the video this week, and she says she was horrified by what she witnessed.
“I can’t believe what they’re doing to him,” she said as she watched the video. “They’re sitting here holding my husband’s nose, hand on his throat. I can’t believe it.”
Joliet police say they took Lurry into custody on Jan. 29 during an undercover drug operation.
In the video, taken from the dashboard of the police car that Lurry was riding in, it appears that he is chewing on something. Several minutes later, when officers tried to pull him out of the car, he was unresponsive.
In the footage, one officer slaps Lurry and curses at him before pinching his nose shut. Another officer is seen using a collapsible baton to try to pull the object out of Lurry’s throat.
Police say that Lurry had swallowed a large quantity of drugs, and he later died. The Will County Coroner’s Office determined that Lurry’s death was caused by fentanyl-induced intoxication, and that his system contained 11 times the lethal dose of fentanyl at the time of his death, according to The Herald-News.
Ever since the incident took place, Nicole Lurry and her attorney have been asking for police reports about her husband’s arrest, but had not received the information they were seeking.
“I’ve had no answers from the Joliet Police Department. I feel like they’re trying to cover something up,” she said.
Joliet police say that there is no cover-up, and say that they have initiated an internal investigation into Lurry’s death.
When asked why the investigation has taken five months to be undertaken, officials said that laws and protocols dictated that the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Major Crimes Task Force had to complete an investigation into the incident before an internal investigation could be launched by the Joliet PD.
Those external investigations ended without criminal charges for the officers involved, according to Joliet police officials.
Now that they’ve seen the video, Lurry’s attorney minced no words about what happened on Jan. 29.
“I think I just witnessed the homicide of Eric Lurry,” attorney Michael Oppenheimer said. These police officers knew he was in distress, and they never called 911. For over seven minutes, they didn’t call 911. The law says you have to call 911 to give him aid.”
Despite the findings of the investigation by the state's attorney and the Major Crimes Task Force, Oppenheimer is demanding justice for the Lurry family.
“They did nothing to help him,” he said. “They probably killed him by doing what they did.”
Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk has requested an investigation by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office.