JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — A Joliet police sergeant who went public with allegations of police misconduct in the death of a suspect has been arrested, CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini has learned.
Sgt. Javier Esqueda was charged with two counts of official misconduct and was booked at the Kendall County Jail. Bond was set at $5,000 and Esqueda walked out of the facility on Wednesday afternoon. The felony charges mean the Esqueda could fave five years in prison if he is found guilty.READ MORE: Bar And Restaurant Owners Fight For Late Night Hours While Trying To Stay In Business Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
“I want justice for Eric Lurry,” Esqueda said on Wednesday. “I want officers in the country to come out and tell the truth.”
“Something like this should not be happening if you are telling the truth.”
Esqueda, 51, blew the whistle on the death of Lurry and had been stripped of his police powers and placed on administrative leave. Joliet police withheld the video of the arrest for five months. He believes the police department was trying to cover up the arrest. “Yes, I do, 100 percent,” Esqueda told Savini this summer. “I did the right thing, I am a good honest cop.”
There are calls to fire the two officers involved in Lurry’s death.
Police Chief Alan Roechner said Esqueda’s “unauthorized access to video evidence that was involved in a criminal investigation” is what ultimately led to him being placed on administrative duty. In one video clip Sgt. Doug May slapped Lurry, called him a “bitch” then pinched his nose shut. The video also shows police hitting Lurry while he was in handcuffs and putting police baton into his mouth.READ MORE: Investigation Launched At Calumet City School Due To Controversial Black History Month Assignement
After Lurry died, police said officers believed there was a bag of drugs in his mouth. But Esqueda told Savini earlier this year that even if that was the case, he doesn’t believe the officers should’ve taken actions that could have cut off Lurry’s air supply.
“That’s been written in the law for a few years,” Esqueda said. “You can’t do that anymore to try to get them to cough up any kind of drugs in their system.”
“I can’t think of anywhere where I was taught CPR or in the academy where you slap a man, call him a bad name, cut off his airway, go for his throat,” Esqueda added. He said he cried when he saw the video.
The Will County Coroner’s Office ruled Lurry’s death was due to heroin, fentanyl and cocaine intoxication. The autopsy report obtained by CBS 2 does not mention whether squad car video was reviewed before the coroner’s office issued its ruling in March.
Joliet finally released three hours of video related to the investigation.
This is not the first time there have been questions about police transparency surrounding Lurry’s death. In an interview with CBS 2, Lurry’s widow, Nicole, said she was denied access to all police reports.MORE NEWS: Oak Lawn Police Warn Of Thieves Posing As Utility Workers
She only found out a video from a camera mounted inside a police car of that night exists – because CBS 2 found out and told her.