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3 guards fired in inmate's death

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2014 11:16 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:37 a.m. CDT

WAUKEGAN – A Grayslake man's death in the Lake County Jail is the result of mismanagement and falsified logbooks, among other issues, the Sheriff's Department acknowledged at a County Board committee meeting this week.

Eugene Gruber, 51, who was homeless, was fighting with jail guards on Oct. 31, 2011, when he was put in a takedown hold as he and a guard fell to the ground. Gruber became paralyzed and later died.

As a result of a Sheriff's Department investigation into the incident, the agency fired three jail guards and demoted another one. Six others are expected to face disciplinary action.

Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran, who noted that the Gruber was intoxicated at the time, told the committee that his agency had a couple of choices after the incident.

"We could have gone in one direction and rested on our laurels and pointed to papers on the wall and said how great we are," he said. "Or we could have gone in a different direction and welcome this as an opportunity to seek truth and learn from the incident. I submit to you that's the direction we went in."

Undersheriff Ray Rose said inspections and compliance will be a part of the jail's culture.

"We will take on policing ourselves. That is very significant," he told the committee. "Everyone will be responsible for their actions. Less discretion will be allowed by folks, and more oversight will be mandated."

Such a culture, he said, will instill confidence in the sheriff's office. The goal is to be transparent, he said.

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