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Minnesota Jailers Shrug Off Detainee’s Agony from Fatal Perforated Bowel as Withdrawal Symptoms

Arriving at the Hennepin County Jail in July 2022, Lucas Bellamy, 41, warned staffers at the Minneapolis lockup that he had ingested a bag of drugs. Yet when he died three days later of a perforated bowel, he had been given nothing more than anti-acid medication. Why? Because jailers assumed his agony was merely a symptom of his drug withdrawal. The story, sadly common in U.S. jails, forms the basis of a lawsuit filed by his family on January 23, 2024.

Bellamy struggled with drug addiction most of his adult life, according to his mother, Colleen Bellamy. He was arrested on felony warrants for drug possession and possessing guns as a felon, as well as driving under the influence of intoxicants.

After admitting he’d swallowed bags of drugs, he was taken to a hospital but cleared for incarceration. At the jail, he began vomiting and asked for the opioid-reversal medication Narcan. He got nothing until the following morning, and then only anti-acid. Surveillance video captured his last hours spent crawling in pain around the jail cell floor, pleading for help from jailers, who ignored him until he died.

His father, Lou Bellamy, noted that there was a hospital “literally right across from the jail, and somehow they couldn’t take my son there.” After reviewing jail surveillance video, the elder Bellamy, who founded a local theater, said a dramatist “could not have built anything more callous, more disrespectful to humanity, human existence, than what I witnessed on that tape.”

Represented by attorneys Jeffrey S. Storms, Paul C. Dworak, Ryan O. Vettleson and Naomi E.H. Martin of Storms Dworak LLC in Minneapolis, as well as Jill A. Oleisky of Oleisky & Oleisky P.A. in Minnetonka, Bellamy’s parents filed suit in federal court for the District of Minnesota, accusing the county, its healthcare system and several system employees of deliberate indifference to their son’s serious medical need. The case remains pending, and PLN will update developments as they are available. See: Bellamy v. Omweri, USDC (D. Minn.), Case No. 0:24-cv-00170.


Additional source: Minnesota Public Radio

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Related legal case

Bellamy v. Omweri