If one were to ask the question, “Where are all the good cops?” a lot of people would get offended. “Back the blue” America would call such a question anti-cop propaganda and police unions would get up in arms and whine about how the days are long gone when the boys in blue were considered heroes, protectors and servers of the community—but also, those same police unions are the ones kicking out all the good cops.
Meet Sgt. Javier Esqueda of the Joliet Police Department in Joliet, Illinois.
In September, Esqueda was featured in “Behind the Blue Wall,” a series of stories published by USA Today covering more than 300 cases of police officers over the past decade who have exposed and spoken out against alleged misconduct of other officers in their departments. Esqueda appears to have found out the hard way that the police have a “no snitch” policy similar to that of the streets and the criminal underworld where anyone who exposes wrongdoing or illegal activity to the authorities will soon find themselves the subject of swift retaliation.
In July 2020, Esqueda reportedly shared with the media exposing how police officers treated Eric Lurry, a Black man who died in police custody after cops allegedly slapped him, restricted his breathing, shoved a baton in his mouth and drove him to the police station instead of to the hospital even though he was apparently suffering complications due to drug use and despite police believing that he had swallowed drugs to avoid the cops finding them. The officers involved received minor punishments, but none of them were charged with any criminal wrongdoing. Esqueda, on the other hand, is now facing 20 years in prison after being accused of illegally using his department-issued laptop to access and then leak squad car video footage of the Lurry incident.
So basically, the police brutality and failing to provide Lurry with medical assistance wasn’t worthy of criminal charges but exposing that behavior to the public certainly was.
Esqueda said he saw that the video was available when he logged into his laptop and that the video’s availability typically indicates that an investigation into the incident had been closed. He also said he initially watched it out of concern because one of his trainees was involved in Lurry’s arrest.
Not only is Esqueda facing the possibility of going to prison for doing the one thing many activists say so-called “good cops” should be doing, but on Wednesday, he was ousted from the Joliet Police Officer’s Association, which voted 35 -1 to expel him.
“The Executive Board finds cause that you engaged in conduct that is detrimental to the orderly operation of the Association, and your conduct is deemed so reprehensible that removal from membership is appropriate,” Police Sgt. Patrick Cardwell wrote in a letter informing Esqueda that he’s been kicked out of the union, according to USA Today.
Again, the physical abuse and negligence of officers ending in a civilian’s death weren’t worth anything more than a few slaps on the wrist, but exposing said behavior was “reprehensible” in the minds of people who are currently getting their butts all hurt over anti-police protests and are wondering why cops don’t appear to be idolized the way they used to be.
“They all wanted me charged, they all want me gone, and by doing this, it’s self-gratification for them,” Esqueda told USA Today. “And after everything that’s happened, do I really want to be associated with them?”
Esqueda—who over the summer, became the first recipient of a national award from The Lamplighter Project, a support and advocacy group for police whistleblowers—was one of 30 police officers who signed a letter to Congress urging legislators to pass protections for whistleblowers.
As for Esqueda’s criminal charges, no trial date has been set yet, but his ousting from the police association comes two months after Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul launched an investigation into the Joliet Police Department to determine whether its officers have a pattern of committing civil rights violations.