16-Year-Old Black Boy Dies After Youth Facility Staff Violently Restrained Him

by Cassandra Stone
16-Year-Old Black Boy Dies After Youth Facility Staff Violently Restrained Him
13 ON YOUR SIDE/Youtube

Cornelius Fredericks went into cardiac arrest after being restrained at the facility

Three staff members at a youth facility in Michigan have been charged in the death of a Black teenager who died days after being restrained at the facility for throwing a sandwich. The county prosecutor’s decision to charge the staff members involved comes after the county medical examiner ruled 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks’ death a homicide as a result of “restraint asphyxia.”

Michael Mosley, Zachary Solis, Heather McLogan — the three staff members at Lakeside Academy who were involved in the incident — were charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse in relation to the April 29 incident. According to a Michigan state report and a lawsuit filed by his family, Fredericks was held in the restraint for more than 10 minutes.

For throwing a piece of bread.

After restraining him for 10 minutes, they waited another 12 minutes before calling 911 — during which young Fredericks lay “limp and unresponsive” on the floor, according to the documents. Two days later, Fredericks went into cardiac arrest and died at a local hospital.

An investigation by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services found that staffers used a restraint that was “significantly disproportionate.” Multiple staff members attempted to restrain the teen, with one of them sitting on Frederick’s chest for those first 10 minutes.

Witnesses said Fredericks expressed that he “couldn’t breathe” during the restraint, much like those last words uttered by George Floyd last month and Eric Garner in 2014 as police officers suffocated them to death.

“That it ever happened is a tragedy beyond description, and we certainly don’t want to allow for another young man to have his life taken from him in this way,” Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Getting said as he announced the charges during a press conference this week. He said the charges took two months because they wanted to make sure they reprimanded the staff members who were most directly involved in Fredericks’ death first.

Mosley and Solis were charged with one count each of involuntary manslaughter for restraining the boy in a grossly negligent manner, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, as well as two second-degree child abuse charges, punishable by up to 10 years. McLogan, who was a nurse at the facility, was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree child abuse for failing to seek timely medical care for Fredericks.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Fredericks’ family, has called on prosecutors to bring murder charges against the staffers. Lakeside Academy released a statement of cooperation in bringing justice to the Fredericks family.

“We strongly support the decision of the prosecutor’s office to bring criminal charges, which was based on a very thorough law enforcement investigation,” the academy said. “We will continue to fully cooperate throughout this process to ensure justice is served. This was a tragic and senseless incident.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has publicly vowed to ensure vulnerable children will be properly protected from an incident like this occurring again. “Protecting our most vulnerable is a top priority of my administration, and the senseless death of a youth at Lakeside for Children in Kalamazoo is intolerable and heartbreaking,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We will take steps to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future and make sure there is accountability.”

Additionally, the health department’s report concluded that the punishment was clearly unwarranted. “Throwing bread is not a demonstration of imminent threat of harm to self or others and did not warrant physical management.”