Joliet sergeant indicted after releasing video of alleged police misconduct

“You arrest the sergeant for doing the right thing, but you don’t arrest the officers for doing the wrong thing.”

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After releasing the police dash cam video of the controversial arrest of Eric Lurry, who died in police custody, an Illinois police sergeant was recently indicted on four counts of official misconduct for accessing the video in his patrol car. Although the police sergeant has been charged for releasing the video, none of the officers in the video currently face criminal charges.

On January 28, Eric Lurry was arrested as part of an undercover drug operation. According to police dash cam video, Lurry appeared dazed while sitting in the backseat of a patrol car with his hands cuffed behind his back.

As they arrived at the police station in Kendall County, Illinois, police officers began to slap Lurry and ordered him to open his mouth. When Lurry refused to comply, one of the officers pinched Lurry’s nostrils in order to force him to breathe through his mouth.

After Lurry opened his mouth, another officer inserted a collapsible metal baton into his throat while retrieving small plastic baggies containing drugs from Lurry’s mouth. Lurry later died in police custody, and the Will County coroner’s office ruled his death an accident due to heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine intoxication.

Allegedly using a laptop in his squad car to view the video of Lurry’s death, Joliet Police Sgt. Javier Esqueda released the video to the public without authorization from police officials. Prosecutors determined there was no police misconduct on the part of the officers in the video. The Joliet Police Department later released three hours of footage related to Lurry’s arrest.

In August, Lurry’s widow filed a federal lawsuit against the city and four of the officers involved for violating Lurry’s civil rights and causing his wrongful death. According to the lawsuit, Sgt. Esqueda “obtained and shared the video with various news outlets because he believed that the City of Joliet and/or employees of the Joliet Police Department, including Defendants, attempted to and/or had in fact, destroyed incriminating material evidence related to the death of Eric Lurry.”

In October, Esqueda was arrested and charged with two counts of official misconduct for allegedly accessing the video of Lurry’s death from a laptop in his patrol car. On Tuesday, a Kendall County grand jury indicted Esqueda on four counts of official misconduct for accessing the video.

“You arrest the sergeant for doing the right thing, but you don’t arrest the officers for doing the wrong thing,” Nicole Lurry, Eric Lurry’s widow, told The Associated Press.

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