Teen Restrained At Youth Home For Throwing Sandwich Dies, Lawsuit Filed
When he 14-years-old, Cornelius Frederick was sent to live at the Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His father reportedly wasn't able to care for him and his mother passed away, so the young teen became a ward of the state. According to a report made by ClickOnDetroit, in late April, Cornelius Frederick, then 16, got into trouble at the Academy when he "apparently threw a sandwich." To discipline the teen, Academy staff members restrained him for 10 minutes. After they let go and reportedly saw that something was wrong, it took staff another 12 minutes to call for help.
Cornelius was placed on life support before succumbing to his injuries and passing away on May 1. Tenia Goshay, Cornelius's aunt, is still trying to reconcile how this occurred. “I want to know why this happened,” she said. “I need answers and some justice. We loved him very, very much. I need to know what happened.”
A lawsuit has reportedly been filed on behalf of the teen's estate and the case will be handled by attorney Jon Marko. “During that time, he was screaming he couldn’t breathe,” Marko said of Cornelius's last conscious moments. “They didn’t get off of him. They didn’t stop.” A wrongful death suit names not only Lakeside Academy but their "parent company Sequel Youth and Family Service."
“In fact, video from Lakeside Academy even shows a staff member placing his/her weight directly on Cornelius’s chest for nearly ten minutes as Cornelius lost consciousness,” Marko wrote in a complaint. Sequel Youth and Family Services did issue a statement regarding the death of Cornelius Frederick, expressing sadness over the incident.
"We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Cornelius and acted quickly to terminate all staff involved," the company stated earlier this week. "Additionally, we have removed the former executive director of Lakeside from the organization. We have been in regular contact with law enforcement and state officials to help ensure justice is served and have accelerated the work that was already underway across our organization to move to a restraint-free model of care.
"We take our obligation to meet the significant behavioral health needs of all our students incredibly seriously and remain focused on our mission of providing the absolute best care and treatment possible for our clients."