In their complaint, the family of the late Lucas Bellamy alleges that Hennepin County Jail officials disregarded medical advice and ignored Bellamy’s repeated requests for care.
The family of a Minnesota man who died in a Hennepin County jail has filed a federal lawsuit against local authorities, saying corrections officials are responsible for the “horrific” death of Lucas Bellamy.
According to CBS News, the lawsuit alleges that Bellamy was “forced to crawl on his hands and knees as he begged for medical care.” Bellamy, 41, died from a perforated bowel in July of 2022, less than three days after he was admitted to Hennepin County Jail near Minneapolis.
In their complaint, his family said that Bellamy was forced to endure excruciating pain, with guards ignoring his requests for medical attention and care.
“Lucas could have been easily saved with proper treatment,” the lawsuit claims. “Instead, he endured a real-life nightmare and died.”
During a news conference announcing the claim, attorneys for the Bellamy family showed footage taken from inside Hennepin County Jail, depicting Bellamy crawling through the facility on his hands and knees. He reportedly screamed for help loudly and repeatedly, asking to be taken to a hospital just hours before he was found dead.
“There were systemic issues here, and the family wants accountability, and it wants justice for Lucas’ death,” said Jeff Storms, an attorney representing the family. “But the family also wants to make sure this never happens to anyone else again.”
Storms said that the family is seeking damages for Bellamy’s death, as well as an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 41-year-old’s death.
“Somebody else needs to investigate the death of Lucas Bellamy, and it cannot be the county and it cannot be the [Minnesota Department of Corrections],” Storms said. “We think the Attorney General’s Office should investigate this individually, and we also think the Department of Justice needs to start a patterns and practice investigation of the Hennepin County Jail, because more people die in that jail than any other jail in Minnesota.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which administers the jail, said that it cannot comment on pending litigation. However, it did say that it extends its “deepest sympathies” to the “Bellamy family and to all those affected by Mr. Bellamy’s death.”
“We remain committed to professionally serving all people in our facilities and under our care with compassion, dignity, and respect,” the statement said.
Bellamy, notes Minnesota Public Radio, had been arrested on July 18, 2022, for allegedly fleeing from police. He was facing felony drug and firearm charges, among others.
The lawsuit notes that, after being admitted to the jail, Bellamy told staff that he had ingested a bag of drugs before his arrest. He was taken to Hennepin Healthcare the same morning, monitored for several hours, and then discharged with the instruction that he be returned to the hospital for any “new concerning symptoms.”
Despite this advice, the complaint alleges that Bellamy fell ill on July 20, with his condition worsening throughout the evening. But he was neither returned to the hospital, nor provided with adequate medical care in the Hennepin County Jail.
Bellamy was found lying face-down in his cell around noon the next day and pronounced dead less than an hour later.
Bellamy’s sister, Sarah Bellamy, issued a statement explaining that Bellamy had been an intelligent and generous person whose life was utterly derailed by drug addiction.
“Lucas was not how he died. He was not his addiction. He was a beautiful soul, whose sensitive heart was often overwhelmed by the beauty and the ugliness of the world,” she said. “And he did the best he could, for as long as he could, fighting a demon that stranded him away from his loved ones who would have done anything—anything—to save his life, and to spare him from such prolonged and excruciating pain.”