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Protesters Demand Transparency In Case Of Eric Lurry's Death In Joliet Police Custody

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) -- Protesters gathered late Saturday afternoon outside the home of Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk, following a CBS 2 investigation into the death of Eric Lurry in police custody there earlier this year.

As CBS 2's Jeremy Ross reported, the group was trying to keep the issue of Lurry's death top of mind for local leaders. They said they are contacting the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice due to allegation of civil rights violations in the handling of the Lurry case.

Video obtained by the CBS 2 Investigators showed Lurry, 37, back on Jan. 28 as he was in the back seat of a police squad car, handcuffed during a drug-related arrest.

At one point, an officer was seen punching Lurry's nose shut, while another inserted a baton into his mouth.

The Will County Coroner's office ruled that Lurry's death was due to heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine intoxication.

But the video did not come to light for months, and there were allegations of a cover-up, brutality, and calls for greater transparency.

Joliet police Sgt. Javier Esqueda blew the whistle on Lurry's death in police custody. He has since been stripped of his police powers and placed on administrative leave.

The calls for greater transparency continued Saturday.

"Transparency is so important, because it allows the people to trust you as elected officials," said Bernell Simmons of And JustUs 4 All.

Simmons said there was no transparency in the Lurry case.

"Absolutely not. Absolutely not," he said. "Why we're here today is because there has been so much that's been covered up, and the opposite of transparency."

O'Dekirk has said he is concerned about how the evidence was handled. He said CBS 2 obtained a camera angle he never knew about, and audio is missing.

"Clearly, there was some improper behavior on that video, any way you slice it," O'Dekirk said. "They were things that police officers are not supposed to do."

What did Mayor O'Dekirk feel when he saw the video?

"I think it was tragic. It certainly wasn't necessary. I think everyone could agree with that," he said, "and I can definitely empathize with the family at this man."

Mayor O'Dekirk said our investigation into Lurry's death exposed new evidence that was never turned over to him or city lawyers that handle possible misconduct cases.

Protesters said they will continue their work in days and weeks ahead.


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