Lawsuit filed against Kzoo youth home for teen’s death

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The estate of a 16-year-old who died after being restrained by staff members at a Kalamazoo youth home has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

On Monday, the estate of Cornelius Fredericks filed the civil rights lawsuit against Lakeside Academy and Sequel Youth and Family Services in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.

Lawyers for the estate say there is a video that shows at least one staff member sitting on Fredrick’s chest for nearly 10 minutes as he lost consciousness. The lawyers alleged the last words he said were “I can’t breathe,” similar to the George Floyd case.

Fredrick died May 1, two days after he was restrained and then suffered cardiac arrest at Lakeside Academy.

Investigators found Fredrick was “wrongfully restrained,” the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said in a Thursday release. It was among 10 violations the state found when it investigated the teen’s death, leading state officials to suspend the facility’s license.

Lakeside, a home and school for children with behavioral issues, had a history of violations from the state. It includes failing to properly supervise the youths, using “inappropriate behavior management techniques” with a child and a previous incident of improper restraint.

Last week, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said his office is still working through a few different reports on the death. He expects to be able to make a decision on whether charges are appropriate next week.