The following statement was issued on Tuesday evening by Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner regarding the death and subsequent investigation of Eric Lurry.
“I wanted to issue this statement to clarify misinformation that has been recently publicized in regard to the death investigation of Eric Lurry. Due to several false statements that have been made to the public about the handling of the investigation, I felt it was important to issue this complete and accurate timeline of the events that occurred. It is important in any investigation to hold judgement until the investigation is fully completed, otherwise it is easy to fall into rumor, innuendo, and false narrative. Below you will find the actual timeline of events:”
The investigation into Eric Lurry’s death was immediately turned over on January 29th, 2020 to an outside agency, the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force. The Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force consists of members from 32 county, state, municipal, and federal agencies. All evidence including video, medical documents, evidence reports, etc. was given to the Task Force on the same day so they could start their investigation into the incident. This also included the full videos not only the snippets of illegally accessed videos which have been shown by media outlets.
On March 6th, 2020, the Will County Coroner’s Office classified Eric Lurry’s death as an accident due to heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine intoxication as a result of Eric Lurry ingesting large quantities of narcotics. The levels or concentration were over 10 times the fatal range according to the toxicology report.
The Coroner’s investigation included reviewing all evidence, including video, by the Will County Coroner and the Medical Pathologist before coming to a formal conclusion on the cause of death.
On March 16th, 2020, the family of Eric Lurry requested the autopsy report from the Will County Coroner’s Office. On March 17th,2020, the Will County Coroner’s Office gave the autopsy report to the family.
After a full and thorough investigation, the Task Force turned everything over to the Will County States Attorney’s Office for review.
On May 4th, 2020, the family of Eric Lurry submitted a Freedom of Information (FOIA) Request to the Joliet Police Department requesting copies of all reports regarding Eric D. Lurry Jr. On May 18th, the FOIA was completed and made available to the family. An email was sent to the family member who requested the documents on 05/18/2020 @ 03:01pm stating the records were able to be viewed. As of this date, the family member has not viewed any of the documents that were provided. The documents are still available to be reviewed by the family.
During an auditing process on June 16, 2020, it was learned that Sergeant Esqueda gained unauthorized access to a video that was being investigated by an outside agency, the Major Crimes Task Force. This video that he accessed was shared outside the police department violating chain of custody and potentially compromising evidence in a criminal investigation. When this was discovered, I immediately opened a criminal investigation on June 18, 2020.
On June 26, 2020, I was notified by the Will County States Attorney’s Office that the criminal investigation and their review regarding the death of Eric Lurry had been completed. I was also told they would issue a formal statement the following week. Because of the information I just received, I immediately opened an internal investigation to review the actions of the officers in the video.
On July 2, 2020, the Will County Coroner’s Office issued a Press Release on their Facebook page stating that the Joliet Police Department’s officers played no role and shared no responsibility in the death of Eric Lurry.
The Will County States Attorney’s Office also issued a press release on July 2, 2020. Their release stated “Eric Lurry’s death was caused by the ingestion of fatal amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine, and did not result directly from any action or inaction by an officer of the Joliet Police Department”.
Sergeant Esqueda was placed on administrative duty on July 6, 2020, due to him being under a criminal and an internal investigation. This was opened in regard to his unauthorized access to video evidence that was involved in a criminal investigation, which could have compromised the case. Sergeant May was also placed on administrative duty the same day pending the results of an internal review. For the sake of transparency, both internal investigations are being handled by an outside firm at my request.
“I cannot speak on any of the internal affairs investigations until they are completed, however I have to condemn in the strongest terms the false narrative that has been put out regarding that there was not an outside investigation done, video evidence was withheld and that the Joliet Police Department was covering up evidence. We have been as transparent as we possibly could be, considering this was an active criminal investigation until the Will County States Attorney released their statement on July 2, 2020. As stated previously, all evidence was turned over to the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force and eventually reviewed by the Task Force, the Will County Coroner’s Office and the Will County States Attorney’s Office. All three concurred on the final findings.”
Chief Alan M. Roechner