At least seven men forcibly restrained a teenager who had a heart attack and died two days later. The staffers at a youth facility in Michigan held down the boy’s arms and legs and sat on him as he screamed that he couldn’t breathe, an attorney representing the boy’s estate said Tuesday.
What We Know:
- Surveillance video footage from the Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo shows 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks being pushed to the floor and held down by staff members because he threw a sandwich in the cafeteria. About a dozen teenagers can be seen sitting in the cafeteria at the time.
- The video was released Tuesday by Detroit-area attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Fredericks’ estate. A civil lawsuit filed by the estate in June says the boy screamed “I can’t breathe” as he was restrained for about 8 minutes on April 29. The video shown to reporters had no sound.
- Of the two videos at opposing angles, they reveal several of the men appear to pull on and hold down Fredericks’ arms and legs while others sit or lay atop his chest and abdomen. Toward the end of the video, the teen appears limp and falls back to the floor when staffers try to sit him up. Others then move in and start CPR.
- “He’s not fighting at all … his shoes and his feet are just lying there,” Fieger said, referring to the videotape. The teenager went into cardiac arrest, was hospitalized and died two days later, authorities said. The death was ruled a homicide and the doctor who performed the autopsy said Fredericks died of asphyxia.
- Two male staffers and a female nurse, Michael Mosley of Battle Creek, Zachary Solis of Lansing and Heather McLogan of Kalamazoo, were fired and have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in Fredericks’ death.
- According to HuffPost, Lakeside had a contract with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to care for youths in the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems. The state said last month that it had terminated that contract with Lakeside Academy and removed all 125 youth being housed there.
JooYeun Chang, who oversees Michigan’s child welfare system, said the state needs to “totally overhaul” its oversight of residential facilities for youth. “What’s important is we look at the totality of what’s happening, how these institutions are being used and how we monitor and provide oversight and training,” Chang told WOOD-TV.