Lake County Jail inmate's death ruled homicide - Dallas News |

Lake County Jail inmate's death ruled homicide

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office has ruled the death of a Lake County Jail inmate a homicide, prompting the Lake County State's Attorney's office to request a state review of its initial investigation into the incident.

Eugene Gruber, 51, died in part from spinal injuries from an altercation, and his death was ruled a homicide. Other causes of death include paraplegia, bronchial pneumonia and dilated cardiomyopathy, the medical examiner's office announced Tuesday.

Gruber was arrested Oct. 31, 2011, for disorderly conduct and criminal trespass to a residence, and was taken to the Lake County Jail in Waukegan, authorities said. He was reportedly uncooperative during processing and was physically restrained and pepper sprayed.

The medical examiner's office confirmed Gruber was injured Oct. 31, 2011. But he didn't die until 10:22 p.m. on March 3 at Mount Sinai Hospital, and an autopsy performed March 4 was inconclusive, with results pending further studies.

The Lake County State's Attorney's office's Special Investigations Division conducted interviews, and reviewed documents and videotapes, and determined on Jan. 23 that no criminal charges should be filed, said Christen Bishop, chief of the Special Investigations Division.

She said the medical examiner's office's use of "homicide" is a broad term used to mean one person caused the death of another, but does not necessarily mean a death is criminal. However, the state's attorney's office will ask the state to review its investigation and the findings of the medical examiner's office.

"[The autopsy] does not appear to raise any new issues, however, due to their findings and since we have a close working relationship with the Lake County Sheriff's office, we are asking that the state's attorney's appellate prosecutors office review our investigation and the findings of the medical examiner's office," Bishop said.

On March 22, Gruber's sister, Eileen Siwula, filed a federal wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit, claiming sheriff's officers beat and pepper sprayed Gruber, then denied requests for medical assistance despite the presence of contracted medical personnel at the jail.

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