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Local News

Eric Lurry family views squad car video

The family of a Joliet man who overdosed in the back of a squad car and later died at a local hospital was allowed to view police video of his fatal episode.

Eight family members met with police to see the nearly 23 minutes of video showing Eric Lurry in the squad car, which may be released to the public next week.

"As a family, we were devastated," Meshona Mitchell of Romeoville, a cousin of Eric Lurry, said. "It just confirmed what we've been saying all along."

Mitchell said it was "a good meeting" but the family still has questions.

"We want a transparent investigation. That's all we want," she said.

What the family has not seen is more video showing what happened as Lurry was arrested before being brought into the squad car. Mitchell said the family questions the nature of the arrest because there was no police officer stationed at the hospital.

"Do I want answers? Yes," Mitchell said. "But I understand it's an ongoing investigation."

Mitchell had reached out to police to set up the viewing of the video, said Deputy Chief Darrell Gavin of the Joliet Police Department.

"We had a showing for the family today," Gavin said.

But more than just Lurry's family arrived for the viewing, he said.

"When they showed up, (attorney Michael) Oppenheimer was with them with a camera person," Gavin said, but was told only family would be permitted to view the video.

Oppenheimer and the camera person were also told video of the time following Lurry's arrest and before he was transported to AMITA Saint Joseph Medical Center would be released to the public next week and they could see it then, Gavin said.

Oppenheimer did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

The family members were then allowed inside, Gavin said.

"If they said they were family, I let them in," he said. "I wasn't checking IDs."

Along with Lurry's family, Gavin, Deputy Chief Marc Reid, Lt. Christopher Botzum and Officer Olin Torkelson were in the room for the viewing, Gavin said.

Gavin called the meeting "productive" and said he answered questions from the family about policy and procedures, but not about such matters as the state-of-mind of the officers involved in the incident.

"It went pretty well, I thought," he said.

Gavin explained the video was recorded on three cameras from two squad cars. Squad cars are equipped with one camera pointing forward through the windshield and a second pointed into the back passenger compartment.

The Will Grundy County Major Crimes Task Force investigated Lurry's death and forwarded its findings to the Will County State's Attorney's Office. The state's attorney's office cleared the officers involved in the incident of criminal wrongdoing.

The Will County Coroner's Office determined Lurry's death was an "accident due to heroin, fentanyl and cocaine intoxication due to Mr. Lurry ingesting large quantities of the narcotics as depicted in the squad car video."

"The levels or concentrations" of the heroin, fentanyl and cocaine "were over 10 times the fatal range," according to a statement from the coroner's office.

Despite the findings of the task force, the state's attorney's office and the coroner's office, Mayor Bob O'Dekirk has called for an additional investigation of Lurry's death. He said he sent a letter to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul asking for an "immediate review of this matter."

O'Dekirk signed the letter, as did three of the eight members of the city council: Larry Hug, Jan Quillman and Terry Morris.

Lurry's family members want an outside agency to investigate Lurry's death and then provide a transparent report of the findings, Mitchell said. They are not satisfied with the investigation done by the task force.

"We want someone that's not connected to the city or anyone involved in the case to come in and look at it from start to finish," she said.

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