Three Lakeside Academy employees involved in the death of a Black teenager named Cornelius Fredericks have been released on bond, according to CNN. Staff members Michael Mosley, Zachary Solis and Heather McLogan were arraigned this week after being charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in the case of Fredericks’ death.
On April 29, several employees reportedly used an “improper restraint” against the 16-year-old for throwing a sandwich. Fredericks was a resident at Lakeside Academy, which is an adolescent treatment facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan for behavioral health services.
CNN reports that video from the facility showed staff pushing Fredericks to the ground after he began throwing food. The investigative report also notes that “six to seven” employees that were “very large in stature” laid on top of him — crushing his chest and abdomen — while he reportedly said “I can’t breathe.” Fredericks was restrained like this for approximately 12 minutes before a nurse finally called 911.
The teenager reportedly suffered cardiac arrest and died two days later.
“He committed no crime whatsoever,” Frederick’s family’s attorney Geoffrey Fieger told CNN. “This cannot be acceptable in a civilized society.”
Mosley and Solis reportedly restrained Fredericks, while McLogan is accused of failing to seek medical attention quickly for the teenager. In addition to involuntary manslaughter, Mosley and Solis also face two counts of second-degree child abuse, while McLogan faces one charge.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said on Wednesday (July 1) that charges brought against more staff members is a possibility.
“We needed to make sure that we assessed the case and responsibility and took action as soon as possible against those we felt were most responsible,” he told CNN. “We felt it was necessary to prioritize this case in a way that is seldom done.”
Sequel Youth and Family Services — which owns Lakeside Academy — has deemed that the employees’ actions did not follow the facility’s protocol.
“The restraint was not conducted in accordance with our policies and training,” the company told CNN. “At Sequel, it is our policy to only use restraints as an emergency safety intervention in two situations: 1) when a student exhibits imminent danger to self and 2) when a student exhibits imminent danger to others, and in those cases to use the minimal level of intervention possible.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has subsequently terminated its contracts with Lakeside and begun the process to revoke its license. Following an investigation into the facility, the agency found “10 licensing violations” committed by Lakeside, “including a failure to follow rules related to resident restraint and discipline.”
Fredericks’ family has since filed a $100 million lawsuit against the staff. All three defendants were released on $500,000 personal bonds.