Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died two days after he lost consciousness while being restrained by staff at Lakeside Academy in Michigan
Three staff members of a Michigan youth center have been charged in the death of a Black teenager who died while being restrained after throwing a sandwich, Kalamazoo county prosecutor Jeff Getting announced late Wednesday.
Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died 1 May, two days after he lost consciousness while being restrained by staff at Lakeside Academy while screaming “I can’t breathe” as staff members put their weight on his chest, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.
The Kalamazoo county Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Fredericks’ manner and cause of death was a homicide.
Michael Mosley of Battle Creek, Zachary Solis of Lansing and Heather McLogan of Kalamazoo are charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse.
Mosley and Solis are also accused of restraining Fredericks in a “grossly negligent manner”, Getting said. McLogan is accused of gross negligence for allegedly failing to seek medical care for the teen in a timely manner.
Getting, who called Fredericks’ death a “tragedy beyond description”, said the accused employees are expected to turn themselves in for arraignment but didn’t say when that would happen.
Ted Brown, who performed the autopsy, said Fredericks had been restrained on the ground, resulting in asphyxia.
“In my opinion, the complications of him being restrained, on the ground in a supine position by multiple people, is ultimately what led to his death,” Brown said.
In a statement issued late Wednesday, Lakeside Academy operator Sequel Youth and Family Services said company officials support the decision to bring charges against their former employees, calling Fredericks’ death “tragic and senseless.”
We will continue to fully cooperate throughout this process to ensure justice is served,” the company said in the statement. “Additionally, we are committed to making the necessary changes to ensure something like this never happens again within our organization.”
Efforts to contact Mosley, Solis and McLogan for comments on the charges filed against them were unsuccessful Wednesday.
Sequel said it fired the three workers involved in Fredericks’ death and relieved the executive director of Lakeside Academy of his duties.
Earlier Wednesday, attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Fredericks’ family, called for charges to be filed in the teen’s death.
He said the attorney for the Sequel Youth Services of Michigan has refused to provide the Fredericks family the video of the incident that resulted in the teen’s death.
“It is time for the perpetrators to come clean,” Fieger said in a statement.
In a civil lawsuit filed Monday against Lakeside Academy and Sequel Youth and Family Services, the family said the teen screamed “I can’t breathe” as staff members placed their weight on his chest for nearly 10 minutes.
Fredericks went into cardiac arrest on 29 April. At the time, authorities said he was being restrained by staff after throwing a sandwich
The excessive use of restraints and the lack of concern for Cornelius’ life draw an eerily similar comparison to that of George Floyd’s death,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges negligence and says Lakeside staff improperly and wrongfully used restraints on Fredericks.
The killing of Floyd, who was Black, when a White police officer in Minneapolis restrained him with a knee to the neck last month has sparked ongoing nationwide protests calling for radical police reform and and end to racially-motivated police brutality.
The lawsuit seeks damages allowed under the Michigan Wrongful Death Act. No financial amount was specified.
Lakeside Academy, a facility for teenagers with behavioral problems, last week lost its contract with the state of Michigan to care for youth in the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems and its license to operate.
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