Family Files Federal Lawsuit over Man’s Death in Hennepin County Jail Due to Alleged Neglect

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The family of a man who died in the Hennepin County Jail in 2022 has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the neglect of his medical needs resulted in his death.

Lucas Bellamy, the son of renowned theater figure and founder of the Penumbra Theatre, Lou Bellamy, passed away at the age of 41, just three days after being admitted to the jail. The Bellamy family alleges that Lucas suffered from a perforated intestine, enduring excruciating pain, and that jail staff ignored his pleas for help despite medical guidance from previous providers.

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

During a news conference, attorneys for the Bellamy family presented footage from surveillance videos at the jail, depicting Lucas crawling on his hands and knees. According to the lawsuit, jail records indicate that Lucas screamed for help, complained of stomach pain, and requested to be taken to the hospital on the day of his death.

Lou Bellamy, speaking at the conference, expressed his dismay at the callousness demonstrated by those responsible for Lucas’s well-being. “I know how to construct tragedy on stage. And I can tell you honestly, that I could not have built anything more callous, more disrespectful to humanity, human existence, than what I witnessed on that tape,” he said.

The lawsuit names Hennepin County, Hennepin Healthcare, and four individual staff members as defendants. It highlights the Hennepin County Jail’s higher number of deaths compared to other correctional facilities in the state, emphasizing a history of neglect towards incarcerated individuals.

Their attorney, Jeff Storms, stressed that the family seeks both accountability and justice for Lucas’s death, as well as an end to the systemic issues within the jail. “The family also wants to make sure that this never happens to anyone else again,” Storms explained.

In addition to seeking damages, the Bellamy family is urging further investigation into the circumstances surrounding Lucas’s death. They believe that the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Justice should be involved to ensure an unbiased probe.

The county and Hennepin Healthcare were contacted for comment on the lawsuit but did not respond. KARE 11, a news organization investigating Lucas Bellamy’s death, reported that Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt declined interview requests regarding the case.

Lucas Bellamy had been arrested on various charges, including fleeing police, felony drug and firearm charges, a DWI count, stolen property charges, and multiple driving violations. According to the lawsuit, he informed jail staff that he had ingested drugs, leading to a brief hospital visit on the morning of his arrest.

The lawsuit alleges that Bellamy’s health rapidly deteriorated, culminating in him being captured on surveillance video crawling from his cell. Despite his worsening condition, the lawsuit claims that he did not receive the necessary medical care, and staff failed to heed instructions to return him to the hospital.

Bellamy was discovered face-down in his cell on July 21, 2022, and pronounced dead approximately 45 minutes later.

The Bellamy family remembers Lucas as a kind-hearted person who fell victim to addiction. Penumbra Theatre President Sarah Bellamy emphasized that Lucas should not be defined by his addiction, but rather as a “beautiful soul” who battled his demons until the end. The family hopes that their lawsuit brings justice for Lucas’s death and prevents similar tragedies in the future.