Just over one year after former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and ultimately took his own life, his mother has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Chiefs organization on Dec. 31, according to The Kansas City Star.
Per the report, Cheryl Shepherd is suing the Chiefs, alleging that they were negligent in maintaining a safe work environment, told Belcher that his mental issues were not a result of football, hid the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from Belcher and wrongfully contributed to his death.
Belcher's mother took initial steps toward filing the lawsuit earlier in the month of December by having her son's body exhumed in an effort to have his brain examined for signs of CTE, according to Tom Rock of New York Newsday.
The suit alleges that the Chiefs organization intentionally ignored Belcher's head injuries and encouraged him to play despite the severity of them, per The Kansas City Star.
According to the suit, former Chiefs general manger Scott Pioli and other Chiefs officials "engaged in mental abuse to 'motivate'" Belcher to play through his injuries. The suit alleges that Belcher was told "he was just an accident, and they would get rid of him" — treatment the suit labels "constant bullying pressure and stress" that, coupled with Belcher’s concussion issues, "caused or contributed to cause (him) to become insane."
The suit also suggests that Belcher's actions on Dec. 1, 2012 were not consistent with the character he had displayed previously.
Killing his girlfriend and himself, the suit says, was "uncharacteristic of the loving father, son, teammate and advocate for victims of domestic violence that (the Chiefs) hired in 2009."
Shepherd was present when her son murdered Perkins, and it is clear that she believes Belcher was changed by the injuries that he suffered on the field of play.
Belcher appeared to be a rising star at linebacker after going undrafted out of the University of Maine in 2009. He became a full-time starter for the Chiefs in 2010, and that remained true in 2011 and 2012 as well.
Although everything seemed to be fine on the surface, Belcher was clearly dealing with demons. Nothing can change the crime that he committed, but perhaps this lawsuit and the examination that goes along with it can bring some closure to what has been a nightmarish situation for all involved.
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