Trip to hospital unveils key evidence in case against repeat drug dealer

A Lorain man with a long criminal history may have unwittingly set himself on a course back behind bars.

Damian Bell, 35, was rushed to a hospital in a car driven by his girlfriend in August after he was shot in front of a former Lorain night club, authorities said.

But what police found in that vehicle when they stopped it to render aid to Bell, could set him up for another trip to prison, according to a search warrant filed Nov. 2 in Lorain County Common Pleas court.

Bell was shot Aug. 7 while in front of the Cotton Club, 1776 E. 28th St., police said.

The woman identified in the warrant as his off-and-on girlfriend and mother of his child, called police to tell them she was transporting him in a Black Dodge Journey to the hospital.

Lorain police spotted the vehicle at Oakdale Avenue and West 21st Street and pulled it over.

They removed Bell from the car and rendered medical care to him while waiting for LifeCare paramedics to arrive on the scene.

When police told the woman the vehicle was part of a crime scene and detectives would have to search it for evidence, she became very upset, and on several occasions, tried to move the car but was stopped by police, according to the warrant.

A family member of the woman arrived on the scene and advised her to cooperate with the police.

She agreed and then went to the hospital.

A Lorain police officer and detective searched the Dodge where in the center console they found a plastic bag with 87.7 grams of fentanyl, and two other plastic bags, one with 75.5 grams of cocaine and another with 7.8 grams of cocaine, authorities said.

In addition, there were two more bags with 26.3 grams suspected of fentanyl pills, detectives said.

The drugs field-tested positive were for fentanyl and cocaine, according to the warrant, and then were sent to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for further testing.

When contacted by police following the vehicle search, the woman said she was on the way to pick it up, police say.

A short time later, a Lorain officer called her again only this time an unknown person answered and said the woman would not be coming to get the car, according to police.

Bell, who has prior drug trafficking convictions in 2011 and 2017 in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, was under investigation for drug dealing again when shot, to the warrant.

On July 12, the Lorain Narcotics Unit received an anonymous tip informing it that Damian “Pooky” Bell had sold drugs out of an apartment in the 500 block on Reid Avenue, police said.

On July 15, a detective saw the woman and Bell in a car together with Bell in the passenger seat, according to the warrant.

The detective saw Bell conduct a hand-to-hand transaction with an unknown male through the car’s passenger window in a parking lot in the 4700 block of Sycamore Drive, the warrant said.

“The unknown male on foot was observed with cash in hand after the transaction,” according to the warrant.

Based on this information, police believed that Bell likely had handled the plastic bags with the suspected drugs that were found in the Dodge after the shooting in front of the Cotton Club.

The warrant requested DNA samples of Bell taken by way of buccal swaps.

Police said that Bell was located in the Lorain County Jail.

Bell has a lengthy criminal history, and under his name on the Lorain Municipal Court webpage, there are more than 100 entries.

According to the Lorain County Common Pleas Court website, there are 14 separate cases starting in 2003 and the most recent in 2019.

Court records show that Bell, in a case filed on Oct. 26 in Lorain Municipal Court, was charged with possession of cocaine, trafficking in cocaine, possession of a fentanyl-related compound, and trafficking in a fentanyl-related compound.

The case was bound over Nov. 1 to Lorain County Common Pleas Court, according to municipal court records.

Bell is in the Lorain County Jail on a $150,000 bond, according to records.