KALAMAZOO, Mich. — When Shawn Spivey got off the phone with his son last Sunday May 3, he was ‘on edge,’ he said.
“I got on the phone with my son and he immediately wanted to tell me ‘do you know what happened here? Do you know what happened here?’” Spivey remembered his son asking him, who’s a student at Lakeside Academy. “‘It’s, it’s crazy.’”
Spivey asked his son if he was OK and he said 'I'm fine.' However, Spivey was alarmed.
Spivey said he didn’t know what happened.
He spoke to his son by chance after a case worker at the academy called Spivey thinking he was the parent of another child. Once Spivey told the case worker he wasn’t, they allowed him to speak to his own son, whom we are not identifying due to privacy and safety concerns.
When his son grabbed the phone, he told him on April 29 he saw staff members at the academy restrain 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick.
“He said ‘well this kid threw a sandwich. He was being unruly and they couldn’t control him. So four guys tackled him,” Spivey said. “And I was like ‘what do you mean four guys?’ he said like ‘four guys the size of rugby players tackled him.’”
Kalamazoo Police said in a press release that when they arrived at the reform school they found Frederick to be unresponsive.
Two days later, he died at Bronson Hospital.
“At this point I just asked him like 'are you ok?’" Spivey said. “He said ‘yes I’m ok, you know, there’s riots going on. There’s kids jumping out of windows, second story windows.’”
The five-minute conversation left Spivey worried about his son’s mental and emotional well-being, he said.
His son may not process what he saw immediately but in time, it will have an impact him, he said.
“Just know that when it does, it’s going to be bad,” Spivey said. “It really puts me on edge and makes me uneasy about it. Just the fact that he had to witness it firsthand, versus hearing about it, it’s one thing but seeing it is a completely different story.”
Lakeside Academy released an updated statement, though their public relations team Lambert. It says in part:
“We recognize there has been a great deal of unrest over these last few days, including students leaving campus without permission. Additional support staff and team leaders at all levels – clinicians, operations leaders, HR representatives, direct care workers, and others have been deployed to provide Lakeside Academy the enhanced support it needs during this time. Our therapists are and continue to be continuously available to students at any time of day.”
The press release also stated that the staffers involved in the restraining of Frederick have been let go. Others have been placed on administrative leave.
Spivey said he hasn’t seen his son because of the Coronavirus pandemic. However he hopes to see him soon and let him know he’s not alone.
“I’m still here. I’m still thinking about him,” Spivey said. “His mom, his stepdad and my wife are thinking about him. And we are trying to find a way to get him what he needs and to also get him out if need be.”