KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Attorneys on Tuesday released surveillance video that shows several Kalamazoo youth home staff members restraining a teen boy who later died.
Well-known metro Detroit attorney Geoffrey Fieger is representing Cornelius Fredericks’ estate in a wrongful death lawsuit against Lakeside Academy. Fieger obtained the surveillance video of the April 29 restraint from the county prosecutor.
While the video shows Fredericks, 16, become unresponsive, it does not show his death. Emergency responders called to the scene found him in cardiac arrest and he was pronounced dead at a hospital on May 1.
At the beginning of the video, Fredericks can be seen throwing a sandwich in the cafeteria. Multiple staff members pounce on Fredericks, taking him to the ground.
The video shows he was held down by six staff members for nearly eight minutes.
“While they are suffocating him, he’s not fighting at all because you’ll see his shoes and his feet are just lying there while these maniacs — and I use that word advisedly because I think that’s being kind — are killing him for no reason whatsoever,” Fieger said.
Fieger said his office has been contacted by some other teens who were in the cafeteria who said Fredericks told staffers he couldn’t breathe.
It’s unclear at exactly what point he lost consciousness. But after eight minutes, the video shows, staff members tried to get Fredericks to sit up, but he was clearly unconscious. Still, no one tried to help him for the next three minutes. State reports indicated some thought he was pretending.
Finally, staff members began CPR.
Through it all, staff nurse Heather McLogan can be seen in the video standing to the side.
“You’ll see the nurse standing there watching and several minutes after he’s there lying there, there’s apparently a call by the nurse. She does nothing to in any way assist him and do what she’s supposed to do,” Fieger said. “But several minutes after he’s lying there, you’ll see her slightly walk away, talk on a phone, and we believe that’s the 911 call.”
After that call, McLogan does perform CPR.
Fieger pointed out that there are a few moments where a few seconds of video seem to be missing. He’s trying to figure out why.
The medical examiner ruled Fredericks’ death a homicide caused by complications from restraint asphyxia. Three people — McLogan and two who helped restrain Fredericks, Michael Mosley and Zachary Solis — have been charged with manslaughter and child abuse. Their attorneys said they followed protocol and did not do anything criminal.
Ten people were fired from Lakeside over the death. The state said Fredericks was wrongfully restrained. It has removed all children from the home, suspended its license and moved to revoke it permanently.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting told News 8 Tuesday that he may pursue charges against more people, but that his initial focus was charging those “most directly responsible.”