News - Joliet and Will County

Man dies after ingesting suspected cocaine while in Joliet police custody

Eric D. Lurry Jr., 37, died after being taken into Joliet police custody on Jan. 28, 2020.

A 37-year-old man died early Wednesday after ingesting a large amount of a substance believed to be cocaine while in police custody, according to the Joliet Police Department.

Joliet police arrested Eric D. Lurry Jr. on drug-related charges Tuesday as a result of a narcotics investigation in the area of Briggs and Washington streets, according to a news release from the Will-Grundy Counties Major Crimes Task Force.

Officers arrested Lurry and took him via squad car to the police station about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, but after they arrived, he refused to get out of the vehicle, according to a statement released by Joliet police Wednesday morning.

Officers said Lurry appeared to be concealing something in his mouth and that they were able to “remove a large bag containing suspected cocaine from his mouth.”

At that point, Lurry “began to have a medical emergency” and lost consciousness, police said, and officers on scene rendered aid.

Lurry was taken by ambulance to AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where he was stabilized and taken to the intensive care unit.

Joliet police said they received a call from the hospital about 3 a.m. Wednesday notifying them that Lurry had died.

Dan Troike, a commander with the Major Crimes Task Force, said the unit is investigating the incident at the Joliet Police Department.

The task force released a statement Wednesday afternoon that said multiple interviews have been conducted.

The Will County Coroner’s Office said preliminary results from an autopsy on Lurry performed Wednesday are pending further studies.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, who has been critical of the police department and described it as being in “nonstop chaos” at a recent Joliet City Council meeting, said he didn’t yet have an opinion on the incident.

“I don’t know what happened,” O’Dekirk said. “I think it would be wrong to make any judgment on it until it is investigated.”

Lurry previously pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2006 and 2014, according to Will County Circuit Court records.

He was sentenced to five years in prison both for his 2006 conviction and for his conviction in 2014, records show.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.