September 26, 2022
Local News

Protesters decry Joliet police handling of Eric Lurry's death

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About 30 protesters marched outside of the Joliet Police Department's main station Tuesday afternoon over the death of Eric Lurry.

The group was mostly made up of a diverse mix of high school students from Joliet and surrounding communities. Many of them had marched around Joliet West High School last month on Juneteenth to protest incidents of police brutality against African Americans.

Lurry, 37, died in January while in police custody from what the Will County Coroner's Office ruled was drug-induced intoxication at more than 10 times the lethal dose from a combination of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine.

Like some of Lurry's family members, the protesters said they wanted to see the Joliet police held accountable for his death. Officers can be seen in a video pinching Lurry's nose and probing his mouth with a baton for concealed drugs after he was losing consciousness.

Heaven Booth, a protest organizer and Joliet West High School student, said she thought the video of Lurry's death was "horrible."

Lurry "had no way to breathe," Booth said. "They did kill him and they failed to call the ambulance after he was unresponsive."

Booth and the other protesters also questioned why one of the officers slapped Lurry as he was losing consciousness and told him to, "Wake up (expletive)."

The Will Grundy Major Crimes Task Force investigated Lurry's death and forwarded their findings to the Will County State's Attorney's Office. The state's attorney's office concluded that police were not at fault in Lurry's death.

The protesters marched around the police station with signs reading "Black Lives Matter." They also likened Lurry's death to those of other African Americans who died while in police custody.

Effie Lee, a Joliet resident who said she was Lurry's cousin, also attended the protest. Like other loved ones of Lurry, she criticized the police officers for how they handled his overdose.

"No one deserves to be treated that way," Lee said. She added that she thought the officers wasted time getting him medical treatment and that being physical with him was unnecessary since he did not pose a threat to them.

The demonstrators also criticized the Joliet Police Department's handling of the video of Lurry's overdose. They decried how the Joliet police sergeant who leaked the squad car video was placed on administrative duties.

Lee said the last several days and months have been tough on Lurry's wife and children. She said Lurry had been training to be a barber and was planning on teaching others wishing to enter the profession.

"He was a good guy," Lee said.

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.