KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — News 8 has learned the identity of the 16-year-old that died after being restrained at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo.
Jon Marko, the attorney for Cornelius Fredericks’ family, says they want answers about what led to the teen’s death.
“This is what happens when you improperly restrain someone in the wrong way and, or for too long,” Marko said.
The boy was restrained on April 29 at Lakeside Academy, revived by emergency crews, and later died at the hospital.
“If you cut off oxygen to your heart and your brain long enough, it can cause you to have a heart attack and die, and we know that he was restrained. We know that he had a heart attack, at least that’s the preliminary reports, and we know that he died as a result,” Marko said.
According to Marko, the incident occurred after the 16-year-old threw a sandwich.
“I don’t know if he threw a sandwich at another person, if he threw it at the floor, I have no idea. That’s what we’re trying to find out, but he threw a sandwich,” Marko said.
Lakeside board president Jeff Palmer says he cannot comment on the specifics of what happened but says they are cooperating with the KDPS and state investigations.
“This is an unprecedented event for us, and it’s really been tough on the other students, on all the staff, on the board members,” Palmer said.
Since the incident, 28 students have run away from Lakeside. One remains unaccounted for but is believed to be with family, according to Palmer.
Michigan and other states have begun removing children from the facility.
Palmer says they had 124 boys living there last week, and now the number is around 75.
Lisa Ackley says her grandson is at home after leaving Lakeside, and she is concerned about the injuries he received from being restrained.
According to Ackley, her grandson witnessed Fredericks being restrained.
“He stated to me grandma there were two guys and they were big, and they were on his back and his neck . He kept saying to them he can’t breathe he can’t breathe,” Ackley said.
Marko says initial reports indicate the boy may have had COVID-19. It is still unclear whether that played a role in the death.
“Certainly, if this young man had COVID-19 it could have caused additional breathing issues but still people get COVID-19, healthy young people, and they don’t die of heart attacks,” Marko said.
Lakeside Academy confirms two current residents are being isolated after testing positive for COVID-19. Palmer says every child has been tested and they are awaiting some of those results.