News - Joliet and Will County

Eric Lurry’s widow seeks to preserve evidence for upcoming lawsuit: records

Widow has concerns ‘evidence is being destroyed or tampered,’ court motion said

Eric Lurry Jr. He died Jan. 29, 2020, after he was arrested by Joliet police officers. The Will County Coroner's Office ruled his death was an accident from drug-induced intoxication.

The widow of Eric Lurry has sought quick appointment as the administrator of her husband’s estate after she expressed concerns about Joliet police potentially tampering or destroying evidence that she plans to have preserved in a wrongful death lawsuit case, court records show.

Nicole Lurry’s attorney Shanita Straw filed an emergency motion Wednesday to have her client appointed as the administrator of her husband’s estate over “concerns of a coverup and evidence tampering within the Joliet Police Department.”

Eric Lurry died Jan. 29 while in police custody. The Will County Coroner’s Office ruled his death was an accident from drug-induced intoxication. The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office said his death did not result “from any action or inaction” by officers at the scene.

Joliet police did not publicly release videos of this incident until this week on their YouTube page.

Straw’s motion claims the police department concealed the video of Eric Lurry’s arrest for more than five months.

The motion also noted the missing audio in the video some time after an officer slaps Eric Lurry. Joliet police said an officer's "wireless microphone stopped recording audio on the in-car video system" and that "this issue is currently under investigation."

Nicole Lurry has “valid and strong concerns that evidence is being destroyed or tampered with as the estate awaits the appointment of her as administrator,” Straw’s motion said.

“The estate believes that in order to adequately protect this evidence, a federal lawsuit should be filed immediately (a complaint has been drafted and is ready to file) so that a court order will compel the City of Joliet to preserve all evidence in the matter,” her motion said.

A court hearing on Straw's motion will take place Monday.

Nicole Lurry’s other attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, said it would be a couple of weeks before a lawsuit is filed.

“I have grave concerns the Joliet Police Department has already and will continue to tamper with evidence,” he said.

Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner did not respond to a message or call Friday. In a statement on July 7, Roechner condemned the “false narrative” that video evidence was withheld or police covered up evidence.

Oppenheimer said at a news conference Wednesday that he hired forensic pathologist Michael Baden to conduct a second autopsy of Eric Lurry. Recently, Baden was one of several physicians who performed an autopsy of George Floyd, who was killed by former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News