KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The family of a Black teenager who was restrained at a western Michigan youth center and died two days later of cardiac arrest has settled a second wrongful death lawsuit in the case.
The settlement between the family of Cornelius Fredricks and Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo was approved on Dec. 29 by a Kalamazoo County judge. However, it was reached out of court and filed under seal, so no details are available. Another lawsuit was settled on Dec. 2 in federal court for the Western District of Michigan.
Cornelius Fredericks, 16, had been placed in three facilities since he found his mother had died in her sleep due to heart failure several years earlier. His father lost custody after being incarcerated.
Lakeside Academy is a residential treatment facility for boys ages 12 to 18 who have been removed from their homes for their safety and/or been court-ordered due to their own offenses. It opened in 1907 as an orphanage and was later taken over by Sequel Youth and Family Service in 2006 when the facility fell into financial trouble.
Fredericks was restrained after throwing a sandwich at Lakeside. He lost consciousness after being restrained for 10 minutes. It took another 12 minutes before staff began CPR and called 911. Fredricks was then taken to a local hospital, where he died two days later, on May 1, 2020.
After Fredericks’ passing, the facility 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. As a result, they are now permanently closed.
The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Fredericks’ manner and cause of death was a homicide. Dr. Ted Brown, who performed the autopsy, said Fredericks had been restrained on the ground, resulting in asphyxia, specifically the body weight upon his torso.
“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.
Charges and lawsuits
Attorneys Jonathan Marko and Geoffrey Fieger, who represented Fredericks’ family, called for charges to be filed in the teen’s death. On July 7, 2020, Fieger released the video during a public briefing on the case. He said the Kalamazoo prosecutor’s office released the videotape after the facility refused to do so without a nondisclosure agreement.
In a civil lawsuit filed on June 22, 2020, against Lakeside and Sequel, the family said the teen screamed, “I can’t breathe,” as staff members placed their weight on his chest for nearly 10 minutes.
As Marko’s legal team dug deeper into investigations, they revealed that Fredericks was restrained 39 times in the year and a half he spent at Lakeside Academy.
Three staff members were charged with the death. Michael Mosley of Battle Creek, Zachary Solis of Lansing and Heather McLogan of Kalamazoo were all charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse.
A hearing for McLogan was scheduled for April 7, 2021, where attorneys filed a motion to dismiss her charges. She was the director of nursing for Sequel at the time of Fredericks’ death. Five months later, she was charged with involuntary manslaughter and violation, causing second-degree child abuse in a child care organization. She was sentenced to 18 months of probation after pleading no contest to third-degree child abuse for not stopping the fatal restraint.
Solis and Mosley were both physically involved in the restraint and are charged with involuntary manslaughter and two counts of second-degree child abuse in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court. They are scheduled for a jury trial on Jan. 10, 2022.
In October of 2021, the Fredricks family’s attorneys filed a $50 million lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan. It has not been settled at this time.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.