KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo County prosecutor is charging three people with manslaughter in the death of a 16-year-old who was held down by several staffers at a youth home earlier this year.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting on Wednesday called Cornelius Fredericks’ death a “tragedy beyond description” as he announced the charges:
- Michael Mosley of Battle Creek faces charges of homicide-involuntary manslaughter, a 15-year felony; and two counts of second-degree child abuse, both 10-year felonies.
- Zachary Solis of Lansing faces charges of homicide-involuntary manslaughter and two counts of second-degree child abuse.
- Heather McLogan of Kalamazoo faces a charge of homicide-involuntary manslaughter and one count of second-degree child abuse.
Mosley and Solis are accused of restraining Fredericks in a “grossly negligent manner,” Getting said. McLogan is also accused of gross negligence for allegedly failing to seek medical care for him in a timely manner.
The defendants are expected to turn themselves in for arraignment, though Getting did not know precisely when that would be.
A medical examiner ruled Fredericks’ death a homicide and said the cause of death was complications of restraint asphyxia.
“Restrained on the ground in a supine position by multiple people,” the examiner wrote in the section of the death certificate reserved for describing how the injury happened.
The restraint happened April 29 at Lakeside Academy on Oakland Drive north of West Kilgore Road, which houses and educates young people with behavioral challenges, including youth in foster care and juvenile justice programs.
A state investigation into Fredericks’ death shows up to seven staff members held him down for about 12 minutes after he threw food in the cafeteria. Fredericks ultimately went limp, then started foaming at the mouth and nose, state documents say. It was another 12 minutes before anyone started CPR or called 911.
Fredericks died at the hospital May 1.
Ten people were ultimately fired from Lakeside for how they handled the situation.
Getting said he gave the case priority, assigning three assistant prosecutors to go through thousands of pages of reports and watch video from the youth home to “move forward as quickly as possible with charges against those most responsible for Mr. Fredericks’ death.” It’s possible more people may be charged in the future.
The state has ruled the restraint wrongful, ended its contract with Lakeside Academy, moved all the kids out, suspended Lakeside’s license and is working to permanently revoke it.
Fredericks’ estate has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lakeside.
In a Wednesday statement released to News 8, Sequel Youth and Family Services, which owns Lakeside, said it “strongly support(s)” the criminal charges and that it would continue to cooperate with the investigation to what it described as a “tragic and senseless incident.” It promised it was making changes to prevent similar deaths within its organization.