JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Another man has died in police custody, and there are accusations that Joliet police tried to cover it all up – including a video that was buried for five months.
CBS 2 investigator Dave Savini spoke exclusively with the man’s widow.
Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said he had “grave concerns” Tuesday night after watching a police video that he said was withheld from him for five months.
We learned it shows police hitting a man in handcuffs and putting police baton into his mouth. That man ultimately died.
“That was my soulmate – my best friend,” said Nicole Lurry, “and for him to just be gone in a blink of an eye, it tears me up inside.”
Lurry said she has been denied access to all police reports involving the January night her husband, Eric Lurry, died after being in police custody.
“I’ve tried to get answers from Joliet Police Department, and they won’t give me any answers to what happened,” Nicole Lurry said.
She added that we’re going on half a year, and there has been “nothing, absolutely nothing.”
She now only found out a video from a camera mounted inside a police car of that night exists – because we found out and told her.
Savini: “What does it say to you? What does it say about this police department?”
Nicole Lurry: “That they’re trying to hide something and they’re trying to cover up something. That’s it. That’s all. They have something to hide. If there was nothing to hide, then why not show the video?”
Nicole Lurry said her husband had just finished getting his license to be a barber, and was enrolled in school to become an instructor at the barber school. But in late January, the 37-year-old – who had served time before for drugs – got arrested again.
The police misconduct allegedly happened after Eric Lurry was put in the back of a police car and taken to the Joliet police headquarters. We are told it was all captured on police video.
Mayor O’Dekirk told the CBS 2 investigators a whistleblower recently alerted city officials that a video existed. He watched it, and while he can’t tell us what he saw, a source tells us Eric Lurry gets slapped and a baton is put in his mouth.
“When arrived to the hospital, I see my husband laying there on a ventilator in the emergency room, jerking, with tears coming out of his eyes,” Nicole Lurry said.
Even her lawyer, Mike Oppenheimer, wasn’t told there was video.
Savini: “Who’s the first person to tell you there was a video?”
Oppenheimer: “You were.”
Savini: “So the widow wasn’t told, her lawyer wasn’t told, after months of asking for reports of any documents and records.”
He added, “Correct. We knew that this was suspicious. We knew that there was something wrong. It smelled funny.”
“I go to the cemetery to visit him two, sometimes three times a week,” Nicole Lurry added.
The mayor said he has written a letter to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul asking for an independent investigation.
He said he could not release the video to Savini yet.
The Joliet police chief has yet to return our calls.