Joliet's Missing Eric Lurry Video 'Did Have Evidentiary Value'

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JOLIET, IL — The attorney for Nicole Lurry told Joliet Patch that Mayor Bob O’Dekirk’s outside investigation into missing video solidifies her belief that Joliet’s Police Department engaged in a cover-up and hid evidence after the in-custody death of Eric Lurry. The Black Joliet prisoner was 37 years old when he died after being in Joliet police custody in 2020.

“The police department had a responsibility to preserve evidence because of an ongoing investigation and anticipated litigation,” Naperville attorney Abby Bakos of Bakos & Maisuria Law Group told Joliet Patch on Wednesday.

“In my opinion, they were doing everything they can to shield themselves from criminal liability and civil liability, too. In order to do that, they would have to hide and destroy evidence. They failed to perform their most basic duty, to preserve evidence.”

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Nicole Lurry addresses the Joliet City Council at Tuesday night’s meeting. Image via city of Joliet

In mid-January, Westmont attorney Sean Connolly and his private investigator, Martin Walsh, released to Lurry’s attorney their eight-month-long probe into the Joliet Police Department regarding alleged missing video from Eric Lurry’s Jan. 28, 2020 arrest by Joliet police.

Last May, Joliet Patch reported that O’Dekirk and City Manager Jim Capparelli selected the Connolly Law Firm in Westmont to perform the independent investigation.

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Connolly finished his work about three weeks ago, Patch determined.

As part of his 23-page report, Connolly made the following observations:

  • The “investigation finds video footage existed capturing images of Eric Lurry’s arrest on January 28, 2020,” Connolly concluded. “Also, this investigation finds this video footage no longer exists as a result of not being retained by either the Task Force or the Joliet Police Department and thereby being overwritten pursuant to the Joliet Police Department’s video retention policy.”
  • Joliet Police “Lieutenant (Joe) Rosado did not save or order anyone to download a copy of the perimeter video showing Mr. Lurry’s arrest. The Joliet Police Department should have maintained a copy of this perimeter video and all video footage shown to the Task Force. Further, after the Task Force completed its investigation, the Joliet Police Department should have conducted a parallel investigation of Mr. Lurry’s arrest and subsequent death while in police custody.”
  • “Commander (John) Arizzi did not believe the video from the camera on the police headquarters had evidentiary value, and he did not specifically request the Joliet Police Department to provide a copy. Further, the Joliet Police Department did not retain a copy of this video, resulting in the footage being overwritten pursuant to its retention policy.”
  • “This investigation finds that while the video did have evidentiary value and should have been retained for the sake of completeness, it may not have provided evidence that could not be garnered from the squad car videos which were retained.”

According to Connolly’s report, Lockport Police Detective John Arizzi, as commander with the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force, told him the video from the exterior camera he examined from Joliet’s police station was low-quality and failed to provide any detail from the scene.

At the time of Lurry’s in-custody death, Jan. 29, 2020, Rosado ran Joliet’s internal affairs unit, and Al Roechner was Joliet’s police chief. That May, Roechner promoted Rosado to deputy chief. Last January, Rosado was demoted back to lieutenant shortly after Roechner agreed to retire as part of a financial settlement that helped Roechner spike his police pension.

“I think it’s important to point out that Connolly disagrees with Arizzi’s contention that the missing video did not have evidentiary value,” Bakos told Joliet Patch. “We have no idea what was on that video because it was destroyed. It would be a mistake, at least in my opinion, to believe that the video depicted what these police officers claim it did.”

Connolly’s report also indicated his investigation got conflicting stories from Lockport police’s Arizzi and Joliet police’s Rosado.

“Lieutenant Rosado did not recall which videos he showed Commander Arizzi,” Connolly wrote. “He said there were numerous cameras at the time of Lurry’s arrest and death. Lieutenant Rosado said Commander Arizzi only asked him for a copy of the squad car video. Later in the interview, Lieutenant Rosado said he did show Commander Arizzi perimeter camera video, however, he does not recall which camera provided the video; he was inconsistent in his recollections and his statements conflicted with Commander Arizzi’s.”

After reviewing Connolly’s report, Bakos said that she found it “very suspicious” that the Joliet Police Department, back in 2020, chose not to perform any independent criminal investigation into the events surrounding Lurry’s in-custody death on Joliet police property.

“And Connolly supports that position,” she pointed out.

Furthermore, Connolly singled out Arizzi regarding his role overseeing the investigation.

“According to Commander Arizzi, the perimeter video did not have evidentiary value. It depicted portions of the parking lot of the Joliet Police Department where Mr. Lurry was brought after being placed into custody in the vicinity of Briggs Street and Washington Street, Joliet, Illinois.” Connolly’s report concluded. “This video showed officers with a sense of urgency as they provided life-saving measures after Mr. Lurry went into distress. This video also showed the Joliet Fire Department arriving at the parking lot and leaving to transport Mr. Lurry to the hospital. Even though the squad car video was clearer, Commander Arizzi should have specifically requested a copy of all available video footage.”

“It’s very suspicious, in my opinion, that they didn’t pull and save this one,” Bakos remarked during Wednesday night’s Joliet Patch interview.

At Tuesday’s night meeting, Nicole Lurry informed Joliet’s City Council that the private investigators’ report into the missing Joliet police video from her husband’s death is finished.

Nicole Lurry said Tuesday marked her first time addressing the Joliet City Council since her husband’s death in Joliet police custody. Image via city of Joliet

“What happened to the report? No one has said anything about it … I have the findings,” Nicole Lurry told the Council. “I have the reports and here it is last week that I find out there was another video of my husband’s death that me and my family never (knew).

“What was actually on that video because it was discarded? It was destroyed or whatever happened to it.”

Nicole Lurry’s ongoing federal lawsuit against the Joliet Police Department has named Sgt. Doug May, Lt. Jeremy Harrison, Officer Jose Tellez and Officer Andrew McCue as co-defendants.

On Tuesday night, Nicole Lurry asked the Mayor and Council “to have the officers arrested. Arrest those officers that did what they did to my husband … if it was your family, what would you do? How would you feel? You launched this investigation, Capparelli. You guys have the results, and everybody in the report is turning on everybody else in the report, talking about pointing the fingers.”

Related Joliet Patch Eric Lurry coverage:

Joliet Officer Turned Off Car’s Video System As Eric Lurry Died

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