The family of a 16-year-old Michigan boy who died at the hands of several staff members at a youth congregate care facility has settled a wrongful death lawsuit, as the death continues to reverberate through the juvenile justice and foster care systems.
The settlement between the family of Cornelius Frederick and Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, Michigan was approved Dec. 29 by Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Alexander Lipsey. Reached out of court, the deal was filed under seal, so no details are available, according to a report Monday by the Kalamazoo Gazette.
Nor have details been released about a settlement the family previously reached, this one in federal court, on Dec. 2.
Staff members at a residential treatment facility in Kalamazoo pounced on Cornelius, who was Black, after he tossed a sandwich in the cafeteria. They smothering the foster youth for 10 minutes as he cried out desperately for breath. He died in a hospital two days later.
The incident, which was caught on video, occurred in late April 2020, just a few weeks before white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by smothering him, went viral. Since then, the country has been on high alert over the killing of Black people by police, bringing reforms from coast to coast.
Cornelius’ death, which was ruled a homicide, also helped compel California social services officials to bring home all the children sent out of state to residential facilities. Other states have brought kids home, too.
In his name, Michigan led multiple states in banning the use of dangerous physical restraints like the one that killed Cornelius. Three Lakeside employees were charged criminally in Cornelius’ death.
The case also led to the investigation and closure of Lakeside and several other facilities run by the for-profit Sequel Youth & Family Services in several states, where a range of abuses have been documented.