SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — Attorneys in the Cornelius Fredericks case released today surveillance video of him being restrained by staff before he died later of cardiac arrest.
Last week, both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit were filed against Lakeside for Children and Sequel Youth Services of Michigan in connection with 16-year-old Fredericks’ death.
"We continue to mourn the senseless and tragic loss of Cornelius and are aware of the video footage released today," Sequel Youth & Family Services said in a statement. "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."
WARNING: This video contains graphic content.
Watch the news conference and surveillance video
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety stated on April 29 that staff members at the academy were in the process of restraining Frederick when he became unresponsive.
The video shows that after Fredericks threw a sandwich, multiple people restrained him.
Fredericks' attorney says not all of the video was shown because parts of it seem to be missing.
“The video is horrific and graphic,” attorney Geoffrey Fieger said. “However, it appears that portions of the video have been deleted. We have not determined yet if Lakeside for Children is responsible for the missing footage.”
Fieger says this isn't the first time Fredericks was subjected to a incident like this.
Fredericks was suffocated by school officials as a form of discipline in January, Fieger said.
Three people have been charged in connection with the case and are in custody.
Michael Mosley, Zachary Solis and Heather McLogan are facing involuntary manslaughter and multiple involuntary child abuse charges.
Mosley and Solis are accused of using an illegal restraint that led to Fredericks' death, while McLogan is accused of failing to get him medical attention.
No court dates are set at this time, but Mosley and Solis are facing up to 35 years in prison and McLogan is facing up to 25 years in prison.
Sequel says it only uses restraint in emergency situations.
"At Sequel, we emphasize de-escalation both with our staff and our students," they said in a statement. "The staff at Lakeside were trained in our de-escalation techniques. It is our policy to only use restraints as an emergency safety intervention in two situations: 1) when a student exhibits imminent danger to themselves and 2) when a student exhibits imminent danger to others, and in those cases to use the minimal level of intervention possible. Otherwise, a restraint is not an appropriate first response, and restraints are never to be used as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience or retaliation by staff."
Fieger says he hopes the video and the case will bring attention to what some institutionalized children face in privatized facilities like Lakeside.
"Unless you shine a light on insects and maggots, they proliferate," Fieger said.
Lakeside Academy’s license has been pulled by the state.