KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) – Three staff at a Michigan youth center have been charged with the death of a black teenager who died while being held after throwing a sandwich, Kalamazoo prosecutor Jeff Getting reported on Wednesday.
Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died on May 1, two days after losing consciousness while being held by Lakeside Academy staff. The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the way Fredericks and the cause of death was a murder.
Battle Creek’s Michael Mosley, Lansing’s Zachary Solis, and Kalamazoo’s Heather McLogan have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse.
Mosley and Solis have also been accused of containing Fredericks in a “grossly negligent way,” according to Getting. McLogan has been charged with gross negligence for allegedly failing to seek medical care for the teenager in a timely manner.
Getting, who called Fredericks’ death an “unimaginable tragedy,” said the accused workers are expected to sign up for an indictment, but they didn’t say when that would happen.
Dr. Ted Brown, who performed the autopsy, said Fredericks had been held on the floor, leading to suffocation.
“In my opinion, the complications of being held on the ground by multiple people eventually led to his death,” said Brown.
In a statement made at the end of Wednesday, Lakeside Academy operator Sequel Youth and Family Services said corporate officials support the decision to file charges against their former employees, calling Fredericks “dead” tragic and meaningless.
“We will continue to work together throughout this process to ensure justice is served,” the company said in the statement. “In addition, we are committed to making the necessary changes to ensure that this never happens again within our organization.”
Attempts to contact Mosley, Solis and McLogan for comments on the allegations made against them failed on Wednesday because the phone numbers of the three could not be found immediately.
Sequel said it fired the three workers involved in Fredericks’ death and removed the Executive Director of the Lakeside Academy from his duties.
Earlier Wednesday, lawyer Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Fredericks’ family, called for charges of the teen’s death to be brought. He said the Sequel Youth Services of Michigan attorney refused to provide the Fredericks family with the video of the incident that resulted in the teen’s death.
“It is time for the perpetrators to be cleared up,” Fieger said in a statement.
In a civil suit filed against Lakeside Academy and Sequel Youth and Family Services on Monday, the family said the teenager shouted, “I can’t breathe” while staff pressed his chest for almost 10 minutes.
Fredericks suffered cardiac arrest on April 29. At the time, authorities said he was being held by staff after throwing a sandwich.
“The excessive use of restrictions and the lack of concern for Cornelius’ life draw an eerily similar comparison to that of George Floyd’s death,” said the lawsuit, claiming to be negligent and saying that Lakeside staff are inaccurate has unlawfully used restrictions on Fredericks.
The lawsuit extends to damages permitted under the Michigan Wrongful Death Act. No financial amount was specified.
Lakeside Academy, an institution for teenagers with behavioral problems, lost last week the contract with the state of Michigan for the care of young people in the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems and its license to operate.
This story has been corrected to show that the prosecution’s name is Getting, not Gettings.
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