SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — ***Warning: The video is graphic***
After weeks of searching for the surveillance video that shows Cornelius Fredericks being restrained at Lakeside Academy in late April, Feiger Law finally obtained it.
Tuesday, they shared it with FOX 17 and other media outlets during a virtual meeting.
“It is a horrific videotape,” Geoffrey Fieger said to the media from his office in Detroit. “It demonstrates what other employees have told us is a culture of fear and abuse at the Lakeside facility.”
Cornelius Fredericks was living at Lakeside Academy for a few years after his mother passed away, an event he witnessed and was traumatized by, Feiger said.
Fredericks’ father was in prison at the time, which left him an orphan. He then was sent to live at Lakeside in Kalamazoo.
“He was a gregarious, well-liked child,” Fieger added. “He was a mentor for younger children.”
The surveillance video shows on April 29, Fredericks was dining in the facility’s lunchroom when he suddenly throws a sandwich in the air.
“Then a gaggle of employees pounced on him. You’ll see his feet lifelessly lying there and you’ll see the employees suffocating him to death,” Fieger said. “They deprived him of oxygen and his brain suffered irreversible brain damage.”
Fieger said Fredericks was restrained for at least 10 minutes. At one point, seven different men are restraining him. Then a nurse arrives.
“When you review the video again, you’ll see the nurse standing there watching and several minutes after he’s lying there, there’s apparently a call by the nurse,” Fieger said. “She does nothing in any way to assist him.”
Fieger said he believes that’s when she called 911.
Fredericks died on May 1 in the hospital.
Last week, Heather McLogan, the nurse that day, was arraigned on manslaughter and child abuse charges.
Zachary Solis and Michael Moseley have also been arraigned on the same charges.
“Far more people were involved in his killing,” Fieger said. “I’m calling on the Kalamazoo prosecutor to charge those additional people. There are many more than two people suffocating him.”
Fieger added that they asked Lakeside Academy and Sequel Youth Services, their parent company, for the surveillance video for weeks. However, they never released it to them.
“Lakeside wouldn’t give us the tape,” Fieger said. “They tried to negotiate with us and say if we signed a confidentially agreement, agree not to disclose the tape.”
Fieger said Lakeside's response to their request and actions in general were ‘intolerable.’ They later received the video from the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office.
FOX 17 reached out to Sequel for a comment, which stated in part:
“We continue to mourn the senseless and tragic loss of Cornelius and are aware of the video footage released today. The actions taken by the staff members in that video do not adhere to the Sequel and Lakeside Academy policies and procedures related to the use of emergency safety interventions as trained in the JKM Safe Crisis Management system. Further, those actions are not representative of our core values of accountability, humility, and integrity. We take our obligation to meet the significant behavioral health needs of all our students very seriously and strive to improve the lives of those in our programs by providing excellence in clinical care, therapy, education, and support.”
However, the investigation continues, Fieger said. They reviewed the tape a number of times and saw that it had been edited.
“There’s portions of this videotape that are missing,” Fieger said. “It jumps and suddenly there are people that are no longer in the scene that were there one second before. There’s been cuts made to this video.”
Fieger added that they’ve given the video to a forensic examiner, and that Fredericks had been suffocated and restrained in January 2020.
He said what happened to Fredericks was not an isolated incident but a part of the culture at Lakeside. It’s a culture they’re continuing to investigate.
“I’m hoping to disclose to the people of not only the state of Michigan but of the United States that the privatization of these facilities that are run for-profit and institutionalized children who have no voice in the matter are being treated as commodities and not as human beings,” Fieger said. “This was sub-human behavior. [Fredericks] did nothing.”