Lawsuit: Excessive force at Lake Co. jail led to man’s death

The sister of a 51-year-old Grayslake man who died from injuries suffered while at the Lake County jail filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against a slew of defendants including Sheriff Mark Curran, the head of the jail, and a number of individual officers.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Eugene Gruber’s estate, comes about three weeks the man died at a rehabilitation hospital in Chicago, where he was being treated for a spinal injury suffered at the jail.

Gruber was arrested on Oct. 31 on charges of disorderly conduct and was reportedly combative and uncooperative with officers at the jail.

The lawsuit claims police pepper sprayed, assaulted and beat Gruber while he was being processed at the jail, causing neck injuries that left him paralyzed.

The suit claims Gruber exhibited signs of the injury while at the jail but was not taken to a hospital until the next day, where he was diagnosed with the spinal injury.

Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Christen Bishop said her office conducted a full investigation and found no evidence that anyone at the jail “acted in a criminal manner.”

Lake County sheriff’s officials have launched a review of procedures in the jail in the wake of Gruber’s death and the death of a Vernon Hills resident who died on Jan. 3 after beginning a hunger strike at the jail. No criminal investigation was conducted into Lyvita Gomes’ death, but Curran said an internal review of policies related to hunger strikes would be conducted.

The federal lawsuit also names Lake County as a defendant for “failing to act to remedy the patterns of abuse,” described in the complaint, along with Correct Care LLC and a number of its nurses.

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