Joliet police sergeant who leaked video of Eric Lurry death arrested, charged

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JOLIET, Ill. — A Joliet police sergeant faces charges after leaking video of an arrest that turned deadly.

Video of 37-year-old Eric Lurry’s death was released by Sgt. Javier Esqueda. Esqueda was stripped of his police powers and was placed on administrative leave since June.

Esqueda was booked into the Kendall County Jail facing two felony counts of official misconduct.

Lurry died in Joliet police custody in January. Lurry’s family and attorney saw the video leading up to his death about five months after the incident.

The video shows the inside of the Joliet police car on Jan. 28. Lurry was put in the back of the car following a narcotics investigation. In the nearly seven minute video, it appears Lurry started chewing something.

After they arrive at the police department, officers try to get Lurry out of the car. When he’s unable to, an officer slaps him and yells at him.

Eventually one officer uses a baton to search inside Lurry’s mouth while the other plugs his nose.

Lurry collapses and dies soon after.

Lurry’s family attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, called the video extremely disturbing for a number of a reasons.

They should have called for an ambulance immediately, they hold his nose for 1 minute and 38 seconds and then they stick a baton down his throat, that is simply unbelievable,” Oppenheimer said.

In the criminal complaint it says, “…Javier Esqueda, committed the offense of official misconduct in that he used the laptop in his Joliet Police Department squad car while not on duty to access video file which was locked.”

Esqueda lives in Kendall County where the crimes allegedly occurred.

On Wednesday, the sergeant was hailed as a hero for doing what Lurry’s family and friends say was the right thing to do. Had he not released the video, Lurry’s family and friends said none of Lurry’s arrest and aftermath would have come to light. 

The investigation into the conduct of the two arresting officers is still ongoing.

Lurry’s widow, Nicole Lurry, is renewing calls to have the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney look into this matter.

A statement from the Joliet police chief said in part that Esqueda violated department rules and must face the consequences.

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