Joliet, IL — Joliet police Sgt. Javier Esqueda is a good cop. We can say this with certainty because he proved it by refusing to stay silent about the alleged criminal acts of his fellow cops and risked his career to shine light into darkness. He watched a video of his fellow officers appear to suffocate a man until he died and decided that enough was enough.
For exposing the crimes of his fellow cops, Esqueda was arrested this week and charged with official misconduct for the “crime” of exposing criminal activity within his own department.
The complaint states that on June 10, Esqueda “knowingly performed an act with (sic) he knew to be forbidden by law to perform in that he used the laptop in his Joliet Police Department squad car while not on duty to access the Joliet Police Department WatchGuard system to view a video file which was locked and he did so while in a motor vehicle which passed through Kendall County. All of the foregoing occurred in Kendall County, Illinois.”
Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner orchestrated criminal charges against Esqueda after he brought shame on the department in July for leaking the video.
“What is most sad about this is that this is a clear message from Chief Roechner to the frontline officers that should they see actions they believe are misconduct by fellow officers, they must keep their mouths shut and stay quiet or they will be charged with a felony,” Esqueda’s lawyer Jeff Tomczak told Patch this week. He then predicted that Esqueda will get a goldmine – from the taxpayers of Joliet and Illinois — as a result of a future federal lawsuit that Esqueda is now certain to file against the city of Joliet and the Joliet Police Department of Chief Roechner, according to Patch.
Because prosecutors in Esqueda’s county had nothing on which to charge the office,r Tomczak says the chief went to a neighboring county to seek out a favor in charging the good cop.
“I also have no doubt in my mind that these charges were shopped around and Will County prosecutors declined, as they should, so they went shopping in Kendall County and were able to find a prosecutor to file these bad charges.”
“I am anticipating winning and I am anticipating this case ends with a big fat federal judgment against the city of Joliet and every officer involved in these charges,” Tomczak assured Joliet Patch.
The idea that an officer, who did his job and exposed criminals to hold them accountable, would subsequently be arrested for this heroic act, speaks to the nature of the thing blue line. When examining the case Esqueda exposed, the fact that this is being covered up is horrifying.
As TFTP previously reported, his name was Eric Lurry.
On January 29, police targeted Lurry because they suspected him of having a substance deemed illegal by the state.
According to CBS 2, 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.
When police arrested Lurry, they put him in the back of a squad car and suspected him of putting drugs in his mouth. Because the state claims the right to kidnap, cage, beat, and kill people over arbitrary substances, when Lurry was put in the back of the car, he was essentially tortured.
In an attempt to get Lurry to spit out the drugs, police held his nose closed while shoving a baton in his mouth and slapping him. This torture went on for nearly two entire minutes until Lurry fell unconscious and eventually died.
“He was suffocating,” Sgt. Esqueda said. “In my opinion, anybody would suffocate in that situation.”
For five months, the department kept the video secret while clearing the cops involved. Nicole Lurry never knew of the video’s existence until Esqueda blew the whistle after he came across it.
Adding to the egregious act of hiding such damning evidence is the fact that the audio had been turned off after the officers were seen slapping Lurry.
“It was almost like the supervisor looks off and says something to somebody, and then you hear the sound cut out. That’s what alerted me that possibly, they were trying to get rid of evidence,” Esqueda said.
“So there was a deliberate, initial act to turn off the audio or get rid of the audio?” CBS 2 reporters asked Sgt. Esqueda.
“There had to be. There’s no way that can happen,” he said.
If all cops had this resolve, America would be in a much better place than where we currently find ourselves.
Surprisingly enough, Esqueda has the support of the Black Police Officers Association, which includes about 30 officers and supervisors of all races.
“He’s a member, and we’re going to back him,” said Dave Jackson, president of his department’s Black Police Officers Association.
“If someone’s doing the right thing, we’re going to stand right there with them. Sgt. Esqueda has been held as a well-respected supervisor and United States Marine and has served his country and his community proudly,” Jackson added.
Jackson also called Esqueda “brave as well as a hero” for coming forward.
“Without Sgt. Esqueda drawing attention to this death to city officials, this in-custody death may still be pending,” Jackson said, according to Patch.
Esqueda told reporters that he leaked the video because he wanted to prove that not all cops are bad.
“In light of everything that’s’ been happening – you know George Floyd really had a lot of us police officers. When we saw that video, a lot of us cried. People don’t believe that. But the thing is, there are a lot of good officers out of 750,000. Not everybody is a bad cop. Most cops that I know were upset by George Floyd,” he said.
Obviously not all cops are bad people. However, if we look at Esqueda’s case, all the officers involved in Lurry’s death, the supervisors, the chief, literally everyone but Esqueda was willing to look the other way. This would imply that all the cops in the Joliet police department are bad — except for Esqueda.
Even officials outside the police department whose “investigation” found that depriving Lurry of air for nearly two minutes played no role in his death.
The entire Joliet Police Department upper administration, Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force, Coroner Patrick O’Neil and State’s Attorney James Glasgow all stayed silent about Lurry’s death, highlighting the systemic and corrupt code of silence.
And now, the only man arrested in Lurry’s death is the one who exposed it.