Will County Coroner Patrick O'Neil says his office and an independent forensic pathologist have both determined Joliet police officers "played no role and shared no responsibility" in the death of Eric Lurry, according to a statement posted to the Joliet Police Department's Twitter page Saturday.
Lurry died while in police custody in January, however, dashcam video of the incident hadn't been released until this week. 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. According to O'Neill, the Will County Coroner, Lurry had fatal levels of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine in his system, which were 10 times more than the fatal range.
“It is the opinion of the Will County Coroner’s Office and the independent board certified forensic pathologist, who conducted the autopsy, that the Joliet Police Department officers played no role and shared no responsibility in the unfortunate and untimely accidental drug overdose death of Eric D. Lurry Jr," a statement from O'Neill read.
The coroner said the doses of narcan administered by first responders failed to have an influence in reversing the overdose, adding the levels of narcotics in Lurry's system "were too significant."
Ever since the incident took place, Lurry's wife, Nicole, and her attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, 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 told NBC 5 earlier this week.
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 Police Department.
Those external investigations ended without criminal charges for the officers involved, according to Joliet police officials.
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.