Medical examiner rules teen's death homicide, 3 charged

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 Gettings announced Wednesday.

Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died May 1, two days after he lost consciousness while being restrained by staff at Lakeside Academy. The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner's office confirmed the 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.

Dr. 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.

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Telephone calls to Lakeside Academy for comment on the charges against staff members weren't immediately returned.

Earlier Wednesday, attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Fredericks' family, called for charges to be filed in the teen's death. He also claimed that the attorney for the Sequel Youth Services of Michigan, the private company that operated Lakeside Academy, has refused to give the Fredericks family 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 lawsui t 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 April 29. 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 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.