CHICAGO (CBS) — A family’s fight for answers months after a man died in police custody continues.
They thought they would get them today. A follow-up to a story first exposed by the CBS 2 Investigators. Troubling video showed the moments leading up to Eric Lurry’s death in Joliet police custody five months ago.
On Friday, his family thought they were going to get answers when they were invited to watch never before seen police video. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports the family said they were disappointed with what they saw.
Eric Lurry’s family said that even though it was a private screening, the videos were heavily edited, to the point that they really didn’t learn anything new. And the family’s attorney can’t tell CBS 2 what he saw because he wasn’t even allowed in the room.
Nicole Lurry’s impression of the new video footage she saw Friday.
“Nothing that I already didn’t know,” Nicole Lurry said.
This is the only video the public has seen surrounding the January 28 death of her 37-year-old husband, Eric Lurry. The seven-minute video, obtained by CBS 2 Investigators, begins with Lurry in the backseat, handcuffed during a drug-related arrest.
At one point, an officer is seen pinching Lurry’s nose shut for a minute and 38 seconds, while another inserts a baton in his mouth. Joliet police allowed a private screening of additional video evidence today.
Lurry’s attorney Michael Oppenheimer couldn’t tell CBS 2 what was on the video because:
“The deputy chief would not give me his name. The doors were locked and I wasn’t allowed in,” Oppenheimer said.
The Joliet Police Department told him the policy is “family only.” But CBS 2 can confirm that two people who are not family members were allowed in.
One of them is community activist Stringer Harris. He viewed the videos with the family.
“The family thought what we were coming to was a transparency meeting and to watch the video. But we got everything other that,” Harris said.
He said they were shown two different clips that were heavily edited. Officers faces were blurred and audio appeared to be missing.
“This was nothing but, to me, a publicity stunt for them to say that they showed the video,” Harris said.
On Friday, Oppenheimer said the meeting was also counterproductive for his client.
“It made this worse. She is a grieving widow. She loved her husband and she’s looking for answers and she’s looking for justice,” Oppenheimer said. And she was hoping that by seeing this she would get some closure here. It was exactly the opposite.”
The Will County Coroner’s Office ruled Lurry’s death was due to heroin, fentanyl and cocaine intoxication. In light of the tactics displayed in the original video, Oppenheimer said an independent pathologist has already begun the process of a second autopsy.
In the meantime, Oppenheimer and Harris are calling on police to release every bit of information that they have. This comes after CBS 2 found that there may be even more video that police didn’t release to the public
A video that Lurry’s widow didn’t even know about until CBS 2 told her.
“There’s been nothing transparent about this case and Joliet Police Department are just digging a deeper hole every day that they got,” Oppenheimer said.
CBS 2 reached out to Joliet police Friday about two things: Why Nicole Lurry’s legal counsel was barred from watching the videos and why those videos were heavily editing despite it being a private screening. Below is a statement from the police department on the matter.
The Joliet Police Department reached out to the family to show the video prior to it being released next week and they agreed to a family only viewing. Deputy Chief Gavin stated he asked everyone prior to entering the building if they were family and they all stated they were.
We would require our corporate council to be present during any viewing where their attorney would be present. Our corporate council was unavailable today. Mr. Oppenheimer was told he would be able to view the video next week when it is officially released after being reviewed by our Legal department.
The videos that was shown to the family today showed all segments that involved Mr. Lurry. The video was a compilation from three different cameras. The family watched the whole incident in the back of the squad unedited with text for context. Only undercover officers’ faces were blurred in the video due to their on-going drug investigations.