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Lurry's mother seeks answers from Joliet City Council

Demonstrators protested the death of Eric Lurry on Friday outside the Joliet Police Department.
Demonstrators protested the death of Eric Lurry on Friday outside the Joliet Police Department.

The mother of Eric Lurry on Monday sought answers from the Joliet City Council on what would be done regarding the police “officers that murdered my son.”

Lurry died in January while in police custody from what the Will County Coroner’s Office had ruled was drug-induced intoxication at more than 10 times the lethal dose from a combination of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.

His mother, Ollie Autman, said she believes Lurry died because of the way he was handled by police, who can be seen in a video pinching his nose and probing his mouth with a baton for concealed drugs after he was losing consciousness.

Autman said Lurry was deprived of oxygen because of the actions of the two police officers.

“I would like to know if there will be anything done or filed against the officers that murdered my son. This is why I am here,” she told the council at its Monday meeting.

She did not get a direct answer.

But Mayor Bob O’Dekirk did describe his request for an independent investigation by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and said he brought the video from a police squad car to the attention of city officials after learning about it last month.

“I’m sorry that your family was not provided a copy of that tape,” O’Dekirk said.

He also said he hoped an independent investigation would yield answers on how the video was handled.

“I believe that tape was withheld from our legal department, from the city manager, from the City Council for more than five months,” he said. “That never should have happened.”

Police said the video and other evidence from Lurry’s arrest and death were sent to the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force, which investigates police-involved deaths. State law, they said, requires local police to take a hands-off approach until the task force completes its investigation.

The task force and Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has concluded that police were not at fault in Lurry’s death.

Autman said there were no drugs in Lurry’s body when hospital staff did CPR on him after he was taken by ambulance from the Joliet police station.

“He was not breathing when they put my boy in that ambulance,” Autman said. “The hospital told me he was without oxygen for 15 minutes before he got there.”

Police officials last week said Lurry was breathing when taken by ambulance and was reported to be in stable condition when he arrived at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet. They were told 10 hours later that Lurry was dead.

Autman was joined Tuesday by Meshona Mitchell of Romeoville, a cousin of Lurry, who asked why police did not have Narcan, a medication that counters the effects of opioid overdoses, at the scene.

Dozens of protesters, including other members of the Lurry family, demonstrated over the weekend outside the police station and O’Dekirk’s house.

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