The death of a 65-year old prisoner after an “altercation” with Illinois prison staff has been ruled a homicide according to records obtained by WBEZ.
Documents from a county coroner show Larry Earvin had several fractured ribs and died from complications of blunt trauma sustained during an “altercation with correctional staff” on May 17, 2018 at Western Illinois Correctional Center. He died 41 days later.
The Illinois Department Of corrections says the the Federal Bureau of Investigations is investigating the incident. “The IDOC has cooperated fully with federal authorities and, as per FBI policy, we are not allowed to discuss details regarding an investigation,” a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections said.
According to department of corrections records obtained by WBEZ, two lieutenants, one sergeant, and a correctional officer were all placed on paid administrative leave shortly after the incident.
A search of court records shows Larry Earvin was in prison for robbery. The arrest report says Earvin tried to sell two watches to a woman at a bus stop, and they agreed on a price of $11. When the woman removed the money from her purse, Earvin “forcibly grabbed the money” and smacked away the woman’s hand. According to court documents, Earvin was homeless.
An independent prison watchdog group flagged major concerns with staff conduct at Western Illinois Prison. A 2017 report from the John Howard Association said “several inmates reported that correctional officers who assault inmates wrongly accused the inmate of resisting to justify use of force. Inmates stated particular areas reportedly lacking camera coverage were areas where such staff on inmate assaults occurred.” The report also said some prisoners said guards were discriminatory towards the elderly and disabled and used racist language. Earvin was 65-years old and black.