Lawsuit says Minnesota jail workers ignored pleas of man before he died of perforated bowel

Jan 23, 2024, 4:49 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota jail workers ignored the pleas of a 41-year-old man who died of a perforated bowel after spending days begging to be taken to a hospital, with pain so severe that he was forced to crawl on the floor of his cell, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Lucas Bellamy was treated like “he was subhuman, like he was an animal,” according to the suit filed against Hennepin County and Hennepin Healthcare in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, offered condolences to the family in a written statement but declined to comment on the lawsuit because it was just filed and is ongoing. Hennepin Healthcare said in a statement that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

It all started on July 18, 2022, when Lucas Bellamy was arrested on charges of fleeing police in a suspected stolen vehicle and possession of brass knuckles, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

During jail intake, he told staff that he had ingested a bag of drugs and was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, known as HCMC, the suit said. He was monitored and returned to jail with instructions to return to the emergency department if he exhibited any concerning symptoms.

The Bellamy family’s attorney, Jeff Storms, showed the news media video of Lucas’ interactions with nurses and jail guards. The last clip revealed him just behind his cell door, the lower half of his body slowly moving about until he went still and died.

His father, Louis Bellamy, who is a director and founded the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, said in a briefing that he has seen tragedy on the stage. But he noted he “could not have built anything more callous, more disrespectful to … humanity, human existence than what I witnessed on that tape.”

The lawsuit alleges that Bellamy’s death was among 15 at the jail since 2015, including eight within the past two years. It alleges that checks on inmate well-being have fallen short of standards, and such was the case with Bellamy.

Storms, the attorney, said he is calling on Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to investigate.

“Lucas could have been saved with proper treatment,” the suit said. “Instead, he endured a real-life nightmare and died.”

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Lawsuit says Minnesota jail workers ignored pleas of man before he died of perforated bowel