Cheryl Shepherd, mother of the deceased Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the Chiefs, claiming that the team was directly responsible for Belcher's mental health deteriorating.
Back in December 2012, Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins before driving to the Chiefs' facility and killing himself. Shepherd's lawsuit claims that the Chiefs "directly caused or directly contributed to cause [Belcher] to develop post-concussion syndrome," which "caused or contributed to cause irresistible and/or insane impulses," such as committing a murder-suicide.
According to the Kansas City Star, Belcher's body was exhumed two weeks ago, so his brain could be examined for signs of CTE. The final results have not been released yet.
The suit's allegations accuse the Chiefs ("Defendant") of not properly monitoring the mental health of Belcher ("Decedent"), despite scrutinizing every other part of his health to make sure he could play:
In the months leading up to Decedent's death, Defendant was aware of Decedent's symptoms and signs of cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment. Defendant micromanaged virtually every aspect of Decedent's life when it came to his physical abilities to perform in the workplace, including analyzing his diet, speed, strength and body-mass index. Yet when it came to monitoring Decedent's mental health and neurological capacities, Defendant disregarded evidence of impairments and fostered an environment where Decedent was required to play through his injuries and become exposed to further neurological harm.
The suit also mentions poor treatment of Belcher after he suffered a hit to the head on what turned out to be the last tackle of his life:
On November 18, 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs played the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. Throughout the game, Decedent was exposed to multiple subconcussive blows. With less than six minutes remaining in the game, Decedent suffered what should have been recognized as an acute concussion. He remained seated for a few seconds, was helped up by his teammates, and shook his head clearly showing signs and symptoms of a concussion. Despite exhibiting obvious symptoms, Decedent was never removed from play for evaluation and recovery.
Shepherd's suit does not specify the damages it seeks. Read the lawsuit in its entirety here.