WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — Following the deaths of two people held at the Lake County Jail in Waukegan, a prominent attorney has been brought in to determine if any misconduct was involved.
Attorney Terry Ekl will conduct the investigation into the deaths of Eugene Gruber and Lyvita Gomes.
Gruber was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct Oct. 31, may have been paralyzed by a deputy’s neck-twisting take-down move, was dragged around the jail for nearly 24 hours before being taken to a hospital and died of complications from his injuries on March 3.
Gomes was an Indian national, from Mumbai, charged with resisting arrest for failing to perform jury duty — something she did not have to perform as a citizen of a foreign country. She died Jan. 3 after staging a hunger strike for 15 days.
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The Lake County State’s Attorney’s office has already conducted a criminal investigation into both deaths, and declined to press charges.
Members of the two families have expressed anger and dismay in published interviews and have demanded further investigation.
Sheriff Mark Curran said in a press release that he wants to know if medical care, training or the jail itself is deficient, and whether policies, procedures and general orders assure proper care of inmates.
He also wants to know if the equipment in the jail is adequate to meet the needs of the jail staff and inmates.
“I want to know if there are areas in which we need to improve the medical care that is provided to our inmates,” he said. “I am open-minded concerning making any and all changes necessary to improve the operational safety of the Lake County jail for both inmates and officers.”
Ekl is authorized to hire an expert in the field of corrections operations to assist him in reaching his conclusions.
Ekl was a Cook County prosecutor in the mid-1970s and has defended a number of prominent individuals since then, most recently including McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi and former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris.