Three charged in death of Black teen who threw sandwich


Sixteen-year-old Cornelius Fredericks died last month after losing consciousness while being restrained by staffers at a Michigan facility for children and teens. His death has been ruled a homicide, and as a result, three staff members have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse.

Fredericks was at Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Mich., on April 29 when he allegedly threw a sandwich. In response, according to a $100 million lawsuit filed by his family, staff members placed their weight on Fredericks’s chest for 10 minutes despite the teen shouting, “I can’t breathe.” He died two days later from what the county medical examiner ruled “restraint asphyxia.”

“The excessive use of restraints and the lack of concern for Cornelius’ life draw an eerily similar comparison to that of George Floyd’s death,” the lawsuit notes. Fredericks, who was Black, has been referenced by local protesters amid larger calls for racial justice nationwide.

Facility’s operator supports the decision to bring charges

As a result of his death, Lakeside Academy lost its contract with the state to care for children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, and had its license to operate suspended.

In a statement on Wednesday, the facility’s operator said that it supports the decision to bring charges against its former employees.

“We will continue to fully cooperate throughout this process to ensure justice is served,” Sequel Youth and Family Services said. “Additionally, we are committed to making the necessary changes to ensure something like this never happens again within our organization.”

Originally published