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Illinois Sergeant Stripped of Police Powers After Leaking Arrest Video of Black Man Who Later Died at Hospital

The friends and family of an Illinois man who died following his arrest held a rally on Wednesday to demand transparency after video from his arrest was leaked.

Eric Lurry died in a hospital on Jan. 29, a day after he was arrested on drug charges in Joliet. Dash camera footage from the night the 37-year-old was arrested showed a police officer slapping and cursing at a handcuffed Lurry as he sat in the back of a cruiser. At one point, one officer pinched Lurry’s nose closed for almost two minutes as another officer used a collapsible baton to poke around in his mouth. Authorities claim Lurry swallowed baggies of drugs.

Eric Lurry (above) died on Jan. 29, a day after he was arrested on drug charges in Joliet, Illinois. His cause of death was ruled to be an accidental overdose. (Photo: Screenshot/CBS 2)

Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil determined Joliet Police “played no role and shared no responsibility” for Lurry’s death. He ruled the death resulted from an accidental overdose of heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. The drug levels were approximately 10 times greater than the minimum fatal level.

The footage of Lurry’s arrest wasn’t released until July 1, when Sgt. Javier Esqueda leaked the seven-minute video to local TV station CBS2.

“Seeing that video was so disturbing, I cried,” Esqueda told CBS2. “Every day, having to live with that was a hard thing, knowing this administration was probably going to do nothing about it.”

Esqueda is currently on administrative leave and has been stripped of his police powers. The police officers involved in Lurry’s arrest have not been disciplined.

“This is absolutely horrifying for me to deal with,” said Nicole Lurry, his widow, told ABC7.

Lurry’s loved ones believe the police are staging a cover-up, and they’re grateful for Esqueda’s efforts.

“He’s supposed to tell. That’s what police officers are supposed to do. He’s supposed to lead by example, and he did,” Effie Lee, a cousin, told CBS2. “He said he cried for days seeing my cousin treated like that.”

“I’m glad the whistleblower leaked the video,” Nicole Lurry said. “I came down here to Joliet PD trying to get police reports, trying to get any information, and could not get one piece of information.”

Joliet Police Chief Alan Roechner issued a statement this week saying the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force has been investigated the circumstances of Lurry’s arrest since his death and there has been no cover-up in the case.

“I cannot speak on any of the internal affairs investigations until they are completed, however I have to condemn in the strongest terms the false narrative that has been put out regarding that there was not an outside investigation done, video evidence was withheld and that the Joliet Police Department was covering up evidence,” Roechner said.

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