Louis Bellamy, founder of the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, is suing Hennepin County and HCMC over the death of his son in jail from a perforated bowel that left him on his hands and knees, pleading in vain to be rushed to a hospital.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, maintains that the jail's deputies and medical staff ignored the repeated pleas for help from 41-year-old Lucas J. Bellamy in July 2022, when he was in extreme pain for several days from the bowel issue.

Video (03:07) Video footage from July 20 and 21, 2022 shows Lucas Bellamy squatting and hunched over, enduring pain from a perforated bowel.

Bellamy, of Minneapolis, was found unresponsive in his cell on July 21 and died the same day. He had been jailed since July 18.

"Lucas spent the last day of his life ... desperately begging nurses and jail guards to see a doctor," reads the suit, which alleges that his civil rights were violated and seeks unspecified monetary damages. "His pleas went ignored even though a Hennepin Healthcare (HCMC) provider had ordered that he return to the emergency department "for any new concerning symptoms."

However, instead of receiving the care as ordered and needed, the suit continues, "Hennepin Healthcare and county employees left Lucas to crawl around on the floor like he was subhuman, like he was an animal, while he slowly and painfully died from the effects of the hole in his intestine.

"Lucas could have been saved with proper treatment. Instead, he endured a real-life nightmare and died."

The lawsuit names as individual defendants nurses Roselene Omweri, Kay Willis and Michelle Diaz, and Deputy Lucas Weatherspoon.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kelsey Demmert said Weatherspoon, captured on video smiling near a crawling and ailing Bellamy, is no longer a deputy. State licensing records list him as a current Minneapolis police officer.

State records also show all three nurses hold active licenses with no disciplinary history. HCMC spokeswoman Christine Hill said all three remain on staff.

Both spokeswomen said they have no further comment in light of the pending litigation.

Soon after Bellamy died, family members said he was in jail after being arrested in Maple Plain. Court records show he was charged with fleeing police in a suspected stolen vehicle and possessing brass knuckles. His family added that his death was likely connected to chronic drug abuse.

Lucas Bellamy's father, mother and sister spoke at a media briefing after the suit was filed and touched on their grief and disgust with the treatment of their loved one depicted in the jail video.

"I've seen tragedy on the stage," Louis Bellamy said, "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."

Colleen Bellamy, Lucas' mother, said the workers assigned to her son's care were "standing back, as if this little skinny helpless human being was a danger to them. … He had begged, he had crawled on all-fours … until he couldn't even move on all-fours. He just collapsed like Jell-O."

The lawsuit says Bellamy's death was among 15 at the jail since 2015, including eight in the past two years.

The Bellamys' attorney, Jeff Storms, played for reporters video of Lucas' interactions with nurses and jail guards. The last clip showed him just behind his cell door, the lower half of his body slowly moving until he went still and died.

Storms called on Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to investigate the actions of the agencies responsible for Lucas Bellamy's care.

"Somebody needs to investigate the death of Lucas Bellamy, and it cannot be the county, and it cannot be [the state Department of Corrections]," Storms said, adding that the Justice Department should start an investigation of the jail because "more people die in that jail than any other jail in Minnesota."

Bellamy's death left his high-profile Twin Cities family reeling. His father, who also is a director, founded Penumbra Theatre, which gave two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson his first production. It is now run by Sarah Bellamy, Lucas' older sister. Lucas Bellamy once served as the company manager at Penumbra, where he also acted.

According to the lawsuit:

Upon his July 18 arrest, Bellamy told jail staff he had ingested a bag of drugs. He was taken to HCMC, sedated and monitored for hours before being returned to jail while at "very low risk for any toxic effects from opioid medications at this point." However, the hospital said he should be returned to the emergency department if he exhibited any concerning symptoms.

He was given "mild" medications for his drug withdrawals and asked for the opioid antidote Narcan but received none. He vomited in his general-population bunk, "probably due to bad [withdrawals]," according to jail staff notes. He was not eating.

By the evening of July 20, Bellamy's condition "worsened in a drastic and obvious fashion" the suit said, and when nurse Willis checked on him, she recorded in a chart that he was on the floor and moaning.

The video showed him needing 45 seconds to crawl from his cell and collapse before reaching a table where he was directed to sit. He told the nurse, "I need to go to the hospital, I need IV liquid."

Still, the suit continued, it was recorded on his chart that Bellamy was could "sit up and sit still," despite the video showing him on all-fours and unable to sit upright. His abdomen was not examined, and his temperature not taken.

By 1:30 a.m. July 21, Bellamy called for a guard, who found him on the floor in the fetal position saying "my stomach hurts really bad, help me." He was checked on by nurse Diaz, who noted that Bellamy stood, walked out of his cell, and sat upright to have his vital signs checked.

"This is a gross mischaracterization of Lucas's physical abilities," the lawsuit read. "Lucas could never stand fully erect, and instead walked to the table hunched over grasping at his stomach."

Although his pulse and blood pressure were elevated, he still was not hospitalized, and upon being checked at 3 a.m., was given no further assistance.

At 8:40 a.m., nurse Omweri visited Bellamy's cell, where he remained in distress, and again gave him Maalox, but he was weak and spilled much of it. Deputy Weatherspoon locked him to his cell, and upon follow-up checks, he "either observed Lucas in serious pain or conducted the well-being check so poorly that he did not spend sufficient time to assess Lucas' state."

Bellamy was found unresponsive at 12:30 p.m. First responders arrived and tried in vain to revive him.

Storms was at a loss to explain how Bellamy's pleas for hospitalization proved fruitless.

"Too often, they look at these individuals and they'll have the attitude that you're in jail," he said. "We think your faking, we think you're lying to us. We don't think you're worthy of our care. ...They have every stupid reason you could possibly think of, when everyone of us can look at this … and say this man needs a doctor."