Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner stripped Javier Esqueda of his police powers on Monday and put him on administrative desk duty.
By John Ferak, Patch
An online petition drive seeks to restore Joliet Police Sgt. Javier Esqueda to regular duty. Esqueda revealed to CBS Chicago Channel 2 last week that he was the whistleblower surrounding the controversial death of Eric Lurry, a Black man from Joliet, who died after being in the back of a Joliet police car on Jan. 28.
Esqueda obtained a copy of squad car videotapes surrounding Lurry’s death, which were provided to CBS Chicago to broadcast.
On Monday, Esqueda learned that he was being stripped of his police powers by Police Chief Al Roechner and Roechner’s administration.
Esqueda maintains that Sgt. Doug May restricted Lurry’s ability to breathe and that would have caused Lurry, 37, to suffocate to death. The squad video shows May holding Lurry’s nose shut while searching his mouth for a bag of drugs.
“For 5 months Joliet Police Department covered up Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, and possible involvement in Eric Lurry’s death,” the petition reads. “The family of Eric Lurry had no answers as to what happened or why their loved one has died.”
According to Mathews, since Esqueda came forward and released a copy of the squad car video, “Joliet PD has retaliated by stripping him of all his police powers. In Illinois it is illegal to retaliate against a whistleblower, but they have done so anyway.”
As of noon Wednesday, July 8, about 810 people signed the petition to reinstate Sgt. Esqueda.
Here’s a sampling of comments from people supporting Esqueda in the Change.Org petition drive:
- “Javier is a great example of what law enforcement should be. Service and respect for your community. The citizens of Joliet owes him more than this for his service and hostage behavior.”
- “You cannot expect good officers to do the right thing if they get the message that their departments will retaliate regardless of the fact that in this case the officer has been with the department in good standing for decades and is still treated like this.”
- “Javier Esqueda is a man of unimpeachable character. Retaliation against him for shedding light on bad actors in the JPD is a violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(8)-(9), Pub.L. 101-12). He should be reinstated immediately.”
- “He’s one of the few honorable police officers. The rest are corrupting the force. Those are the ones who should be fired.”
- “Sargent Esqueda stood up for what is right. He is now being scapegoated by the JPD while they’re trying to cover their asses.”
This article originally appeared in Patch.