‘Notable and disturbing:’ DOC reviews Sept. 2018 death of inmate at Beltrami County Jail

The Minnesota Department of Corrections, after review of the death of Hardel Sherrell in the Beltrami County jail in September 2018, has found “regular and gross violations” of jail standards.

According to the letter from the DOC inspector Timothy Thompson sent to Sheriff Ernie Beitel, “the deterioration of Mr. Sherrell’s condition over his nine-day term of incarceration in the Beltrami County Jail is notable and disturbing.”

Some of the violations include staff helping Mr. Sherrell out of his pants so he may use the bathroom, but the clothing wasn’t returned until two days later, which was deemed a violation of inmate discipline; meals delivered without supervision; and nine violations of the well-being check rule.

Additionally, Mr. Sherrell was transported to the Sanford hospital in Fargo and evaluated, with discharge instructions to seek additional medical care if Sherrell exhibited worsening symptoms, and there was no documentation available to indicate the facility sought that care as directed.

The letter indicated that there was a belief within the jail that Mr. Sherrell was faking his condition to escape custody.

A notation dated August 30, 2018, states “Medical has been given information that may indicate a possible escape attempt.”


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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