Outside firm to review 2018 death of Beltrami County inmate

Beltrami County’s top prosecutor says his office will work with an outside law firm to review the 2018 death of an inmate at the county jail.

Hardel Sherrell’s family says he died while suffering paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension had been investigating Sherrell’s death until it turned the case over to the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office in August for possible charges.

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At that time, Sherrell’s family called on Beltrami County Attorney David Hanson to turn the case over to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office to avoid a conflict of interest. Monday, Hanson opted to have two former prosecutors review the case.

The attorney’s office said it is contracting with the firm of Eckberg & Lammers to review Sherrell’s case.

“The death of Mr. Sherrell was truly a tragedy, my heart goes out to his family, who for four years now have sought justice for their loved one’s death. I, too, want to see justice done for Mr. Sherrell,” Hanson said in a statement. “There have been discussions in the media that my office has a conflict of interest in this case, therefore, in order to quell doubts and ensure the right decision is made regarding charges in this case I have made the decision to seek an independent review of the case. After careful thought and consideration I have chosen to consult with attorneys Imran Ali and Andrew LeFevour of Eckberg & Lammers, I believe that their individual experience makes them uniquely qualified for this role.”

Ali is the former Washington County prosecutor who led the Kimberly Potter case before it was handed to the Attorney General’s Office. LeFevour is a former Hennepin County prosecutor.

Ali and LeFevour gave the following joint statement on Monday:

“As minsters of justice, we must rely only on evidence, not outside influence from any parties. We intend to review the evidence and provide our findings to the Beltrami County Attorney’s Office. We will take our time to ensure justice for all.”