Man's death in Round Lake Beach police custody ruled an accident by coroner's jury

  • Abel Rosiles

    Abel Rosiles Courtesy of Julie Contreras

  • Supporters of the family of Abel Rosiles Jr., a Round Lake man who died during an arrest in Round Lake Beach in June, gather outside the Waukegan courthouse Thursday during a coroner's inquest. A coroner's jury later ruled Rosiles' death an accident.

    Supporters of the family of Abel Rosiles Jr., a Round Lake man who died during an arrest in Round Lake Beach in June, gather outside the Waukegan courthouse Thursday during a coroner's inquest. A coroner's jury later ruled Rosiles' death an accident. Courtesy of Julie Contreras

 
 
Updated 10/5/2020 5:51 PM

The June 18 death of a 21-year-old man in Round Lake Beach police custody was an accident, a Lake County coroner's jury has ruled.

Authorities say Abel Rosiles Jr., 21, of Round Lake choked to death on a bag of cocaine while under arrest. After last week's coroner's inquest -- a rare legal proceeding in which a jury of six citizens rules on the manner in which a person died -- the panel determined the death accidental.

 

The decision was decried by those close to Rosiles' family, who said their fight for what they believe is justice will continue.

Julie Contreras, pastor of Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary Methodist Church in Waukegan, said the coroner's jury was not presented with all available video of Rosiles' arrest.

"It was a huge misrepresentation of the justice system," she said. "The struggle for justice continues."

Contreras said Rosiles' family did not want to speak Monday about the inquest.

Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said that while the videos weren't played during the presentation of evidence, the jury had access to them during their deliberations. Jurors also were allowed to question police officers involved in the arrest, he said.

According to police accounts, officers were arresting Rosiles for disorderly conduct at a gas station the night of June 18 when he broke away and ran about 30 feet before officers caught him.

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While he was in custody, officers noticed Rosiles having trouble breathing and asked if he was choking, police said. Rosiles nodded and body camera footage police released over the summer shows an officer performing the Heimlich maneuver.

Paramedics later used a tool to extract a large plastic bag from Rosiles' throat, police said, and powder in the bag tested positive for cocaine.

Round Lake Beach Deputy Police Chief Wayne Wilde said the department will not make a statement about the corner jury's finding until after Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim delivers his findings from an investigation into Rosiles' death.

Nerheim spokesman Lee Filas said Monday the office has all the information presented during the coroner's inquest and will review it, along with the investigative file from the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, to determine whether any crimes were committed. Filas did not give a timeline for when that would happen.

The coroner's inquest is the 11th Cooper has conducted since he brought back the practice in 2017.

"It increases our transparency," Cooper said of the process, which he employs whenever there is a death involving police actions. "I never rule on them so people can never claim I'm covering anything up."

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