News - Joliet and Will County

Eric Lurry’s widow sues Joliet, 4 police officers

Lawsuit claims police officers’ actions led to Eric Lurry’s death

Eric Lurry Jr., who died on Jan. 29, after he was arrested by the Joliet police. Nicole Lurry, his wife, is suing the City of Joliet and four police officers over his death.

The widow of Eric Lurry has filed a federal lawsuit that blamed four Joliet police officers for causing her husband’s death and claimed that either those officers or other police department employees attempted to destroy or conceal evidence of wrongdoing.

On Monday, Nicole Lurry filed a lawsuit that claimed officers Douglas May, Andrew McCue, Jose Tellez and Lt. Jeremy Harrison engaged in “willful and wanton acts and reckless conduct” that led to the death of her husband on Jan. 29.

The city of Joliet is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Nicole Lurry’s attorney Michael Oppenheimer said the lawsuit is meant to bring justice to her family and penalize the Joliet police for what he believed was tampering of evidence in the case.

“We will get to the bottom of this, no question about it,” Oppenheimer said.

A judge granted Nicole Lurry’s quick appointment as the administrator of her husband’s estate in July after she expressed “concerns of a coverup and evidence tampering within the Joliet Police Department” and that she planned to protect that evidence with a federal lawsuit, court records show.

When asked about the lawsuit, Joliet police Lt. Christopher Botzum said the police department “cannot comment on pending litigation.”

Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner has said in a statement that he condemns the “false narrative” that video evidence was withheld or police covered up evidence.

Oppenheimer said a second autopsy of Eric Lurry is in the process of being completed.

The Will County Coroner's Office ruled Eric Lurry's death was accidental and due to fatal intoxication from heroin, fentanyl and cocaine.

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

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said Lurry’s death “did not result directly from any action or inaction” by officers at the scene.

The lawsuit contends the officers were responsible for her Lurry’s death because they failed to transport him to a medical facility so the “toxic items” in his mouth could be safely removed. The lawsuit said the officers performed an “unreasonable search” by attempting to remove those items, “thereby causing Mr. Lurry to ingest the toxic substance.”

The lawsuit claimed McCue and May committed both an “unreasonable search” of Eric Lurry and subjected him to “excessive force” when McCue forced a baton into his mouth and May slapped his face and pinched his nose shut while retrieving the narcotics without medical assistance.

Eric Lurry was handcuffed behind his back “in obvious distress and in need of immediate medical attention,” the lawsuit said.

At Harrison’s direction, McCue inserted a baton into Eric Lurry’s mouth, which obstructed his airway, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also claimed audio and video from the squad car camera that captured the incident were “edited, tampered with and/or deleted” by either one or more of the four officers at the scene, or other Joliet Police Department employees.

One or more of the four officers “edited, tampered with and/or destroyed the audio and/or video footage” in an attempt to “destroy and conceal evidence of wrongdoing,” the lawsuit said.

On July 20, Joliet police released four videos on YouTube of Eric Lurry's arrest. The sound in two of the squad car videos goes off at the 16:55 minute mark and then resumes at the 34 minute mark.

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.”

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News