The father of a man charged with felony domestic violence is accusing Decatur police of beating his son at the city jail following his arrest, but police say video footage shows the man was injured when an officer tried to stop him from choking his girlfriend.
Brian Rashad Bellman, 37, suffered three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a cut to his head during the fight with officer Timothy Pace at Bellman’s 1601 Sherman St. S.E. apartment on Dec. 8, police said.
Johnny Bellman, however, said he and several neighbors saw his son being escorted down the stairs to the police car following the incident and that he did not appear to be injured other than the cut on his head.
“He was hollering at me, telling me, ‘Daddy, these police are going to kill me.’ He was fine except for bleeding in the head from where they hit him in the head,” Bellman said.
Neighbor Mary Mitchell gave a similar account.
“When the police carried Brian out to the car, Brian did walk out there on his own,” Mitchell said.
The incident led to Pace, along with officers Dennis Berkowitz and Robbie Bradley, being commended by supervisors for taking actions that possibly saved the girlfriend’s life, police said.
Carolyn Allen, Brian Bellman’s girlfriend of 18 years, said Bellman was not intentionally strangling her and that she was not choked into unconsciousness as police reported.
Allen said Bellman suffered the cut when he fell and hit an end table during the struggle, but she could not account for the injured ribs.
“That had to have happened when he got to jail, I guess. I don’t know about that one,” she said.
Johnny Bellman said his wife received a phone call the next morning from their son.
“Brian said they beat him at the jail and had taken him to the hospital,” he said. “He could hardly talk because his ribs were broken and his lung was collapsed. They had to do emergency surgery on Brian that night. He almost died.”
Police spokesman Lt. John Crouch said police reviewed videos from jail surveillance cameras and the officer’s in-car video system of Bellman being brought to jail. Crouch, who oversees the jail, said he watched all jail videos — from the garage, elevator, booking desk and fingerprinting room.
“From the time he got out of the car to the time he got back into the car to go to the hospital, nothing happened,” Crouch said.
Bellman was taken to jail after he refused to cooperate with EMTs at the scene, Crouch said. At the jail, Bellman began complaining about pain in his ribs.
While standing at the booking desk without handcuffs, Bellman bent over and got down on his knees, Crouch said.
Crouch said jailers took Bellman into the fingerprinting room, searched him and dressed him in a jail uniform while waiting for a supervisor to arrive, then sent him to the hospital.
“There’s nothing in policy that says he has to be dressed out, but if you’re going to take a prisoner out of the jail, it’s better to have them in a jail uniform than in civilian clothes,” Crouch said. “There’s no pockets where anything can be concealed. Before they could take him anywhere, he was going to have to be thoroughly searched anyway.”
Crouch said Bellman did not file a brutality complaint through the inmate complaint system, and made no complaint to him personally.
Police went to Bellman’s apartment after neighbors called 911, saying that Bellman was high on cocaine and assaulting a woman.
After hearing gagging sounds from within, Pace kicked in the back door and pulled Bellman off Allen, police said.
Crouch said Pace — a large, strong officer who practices mixed martial arts — repeatedly struck Bellman with his knee, but the blows had no effect and Bellman continued to fight him. A leg sweep finally took Bellman down, he said.
Johnny Bellman said he doubted his son was able to repeatedly attack the officer.
“Brian weighs about 130, 140. That isn’t going to be much of a fight,” he said.
He also said he didn’t believe his son refused treatment at the scene.
“Brian said one of the policemen didn’t want to take him to the hospital and the other policeman was like, ‘We’ve got to take him to the hospital,’ ” he said.
Johnny Bellman said a toxicology test revealed his son did not have cocaine in his system, but he did not have a copy of the report.
Bellman said his son is borderline mentally handicapped and probably did not understand some of what was going on.
“Being slow as he is, he did not know the police could break into his house,” Bellman said.
Allen, 43, of Huntsville said she and Brian Bellman had a “little argument” that night. She said she thinks Bellman held her down to keep her from answering the door when police arrived because he was scared.
“When the police came and they busted the door, he was on top of me,” Allen said. “He actually wasn’t really trying to choke me. He just had his hand over my mouth so I couldn’t say anything. ... I couldn’t hardly get my breath, but he wasn’t meaning to try and choke me.”
Allen said the struggle between Bellman and the officer was over quickly.
“I don’t know if they got into a fight,” she said. “The police had tried to pull him off of me, and the police in some way knocked him unconscious and that’s when he fell and hit his head on the table.”
She said emergency personnel persuaded her to go to the hospital even though she insisted she was OK.
Johnny Bellman said he was outside during the struggle and did not see it but heard the commotion.
“I heard hollering and yelling going on as soon as they busted the door down,” he said.
Afterward, Bellman went inside and saw his son lying face down, unconscious on the carpet before officers told him to leave, he said.
Brian Bellman was initially charged with third-degree domestic violence and resisting arrest. Those charges were dropped when investigators charged him with second-degree domestic violence by strangulation, a more serious charge. He was arrested on that charge upon release from Decatur Morgan Hospital Decatur General Campus a few days after the incident.
Bellman was readmitted to the hospital that day after he unwrapped his bandages and began bleeding, Crouch said.
Bellman remains in Morgan County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail and a hold for violating probation on earlier charges.
Bellman was arrested in July on charges of public intoxication, resisting arrest, attempting to elude, tampering with evidence and possession of a controlled substance. A stun gun was used by police to secure his arrest. Cocaine was found on Bellman at Decatur City Jail, police said.
Not registered? Click here
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|