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Death at Leake & Watts

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Dead Queens teen was restrained by school staff: cops
By Kerry Wills AND Shayna Jacobs / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, April 19, 2012

Teen dies at school for kids with behavioral problems
ABC northern suburbs news, April 19, 2012

wdtony: ... d-incident

Leake & Watts boy's death: 'I can't breathe,' boy shouts after staffers piled onto him, witness says

5:28 PM, Apr. 19, 2012

Written by

YONKERS — The 16-year-old boy who died Wednesday night shouted, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” as eight staff members piled onto him during a violent confrontation on a basketball court at Leake & Watts residential treatment center, a witness told The Journal News/ today.

Corey Foster was being ordered to leave the gym with other students when he took a shot that ricocheted off the basket into the head of one employee. Another worker then pushed Foster against a wall, and Foster “went for his leg,” said witness William Green, 18. That’s when the staffers converged and took Foster down, Green said.

After Foster said he couldn’t breathe, one staffer replied, “If you can’t breathe, you wouldn’t be talking.” That same person then punched Foster in the head, Green said, adding “I saw the fist connect.” Green, as he was being forced out, said he saw foam coming out of Foster’s mouth.

The account mirrors the statements of two other witnesses, who said several boys were shooting hoops when the staff ordered them to clear the court so they could play. Staff piled onto Foster after he became angry, they said.
“When they got off of him, he was on the ground and wasn’t responsive,” said Antonio Reeder, 17, a resident.
The other witness, Malik Legree, 17, said Foster “was angry that he was being pushed off” the court.

Police are reviewing video from the gym at the Biondi Education Center, questioning witnesses and awaiting autopsy results to try to determine how Foster died and whether there was any criminal wrongdoing. Yonkers Detective Lt. Patrick McCormack said police are aware of the witness accounts and that “it’s possible” people could be charged in the case.
“It could turn out that way, but right now, there are no indications” of any criminality, McCormack said. “It’s all going to have to be looked at.”

John Francis, a student who knew the dead teen, said that Foster was from New York City and that he had been physically restrained before by school staff and taken into classrooms to calm down. Francis himself has been physically restrained by teachers before and descibed it as “pretty rough. They just hold you down.”

(Page 2 of 3)

In some instances, he said, students are restrained by choke holds. “It’s not appropriate,” he said. “They have to be more careful.”

Foster, whose address was listed as Leake & Watts at 463 Hawthorne Ave., was rushed to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers, where he was pronounced dead.

Meredith Barber, director of institutional advancement at the Leake & Watts Yonkers office, released this statement this afternoon:

“Last evening, a 16-year old resident of the Residential Treatment Center died following basketball play at the school gymnasium. Many staff and residents were present at this recreational activity. As soon as there was any indication that the young man needed medical intervention, on campus medical personnel and 911 were summoned immediately. We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to this young man’s family and all who loved him.

“At this time we cannot speak to any of the details of the cause of his death pending the outcome of the police and medical examiner’s investigations.

“We are fully cooperating with these investigations and will continue to do so going forward. At this time, out of respect for his family and their privacy, we will not be releasing any personal details of this young man.

“The loss of any life, especially one so young, is heart wrenching. We all mourn the tragic death of this young man.”
Lt. McCormack gave this account this morning: Foster was playing basketball and there was a dispute on the court. Multiple Leake & Watts staffers restrained the boy and he went into cardiac arrest. While they were restraining him, the police were called.

When police arrived, Foster was lying unresponsive on the gym floor with ambulance workers and school staff administring CPR, McCormack said. Members of the police Emergency Services Unit also tried to revive Foster as he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was pronounced dead in the hospital emergency room at 9:22 p.m.
McCormack said it was Leake & Watts staffers who restrained the boy, not the police. "We did not restrain him at any time. We actually assisted in resuscitating him," McCormack said.

(Page 3 of 3)

McCormack said he did not know how the Leake & Watts staffers restrained the boy. He said no mechanical restraints were used, describing it as “physical restraint” by school staff. He did not say how many people held Foster down.
“This is an open and active investigation,” McCormack said, adding that detectives spent the night interviewing teachers, students and school staff. “No one has been charged criminally at this time.”

McCormack confirmed that the gym had surveillance cameras and police were reviewing the video today.
Fellow students described Foster as a big young man, 6 foot 1 or 6 foot 2 and heavy, well-built.

The Westchester Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy and said results were not expected until Friday
At Leake & Watts this morning, security guards were stopping and checking every car at the main entrance on Hawthorne Avenue.

Shelton Anderson, 15, a non-resident student who lives in the Bronx, said that he knew Foster for four or five years. Foster started living on campus recently because something happened to his grandmother, Anderson said.
Foster was a nice kid, Anderson said, but: "He was a little off. He would just wild out. If someone said something wrong about him, he would go crazy."

John Gray, a non-resident student arriving at the campus this morning, said he knew Corey Foster for months. He said Foster wasn't loud but he wasn't quiet either.

"It's a shame that happened," Gray said. "No one deserves to die."
Gray said he was surprised at the death because there are fights, but the staff usually stops it and calms it down. "If there's a fight, they just break it up like any other school," Gray said.

On Foster's death, he said: "It went the wrong way. Mistakes happen."
Police were called to the non-profit facility which caters to troubled youth about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The school specializes in educating students with emotional and social difficulties, according to the Leake & Watts website.
Police have, in recent years, been called upon to deal with students at the school suspected of violent crimes.

In May 2009, a 20-year-old resident at the Leake & Watts home at the same Hawthorne Avenue address was accused of sexually molesting an employee of the institution.

In September 2008, a 17-year-old student was arrested after swinging a pair of scissors at a school monitor.

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Restrained Youth’s Death in Yonkers Is Investigated
Published: April 20, 2012

The police and state officials are examining a surveillance video that recorded the death of a 16-year-old boy at a private residential treatment center in Yonkers this week as staff members physically restrained him on the floor after a basketball game.

The boy, Corey Foster, who was a resident student at the center, Leake & Watts, became “unresponsive” about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, while three staff members were holding him down in an approved technique called “Therapeutic Crisis Intervention,” Meredith Barber, a spokeswoman for the center, said.

The staff members released their hold and began CPR as soon as they noticed the teenager’s state, she said, and called 911 as well as the center’s medical staff.

“As part of our cooperation with police in this investigation, we’ve provided a video of the event,” Ms. Barber said Friday. It was recorded by a surveillance camera in the gym, where 38 youths and 14 staff members had been playing basketball before the episode.

“We have no indication that protocol was not followed,” she added. “We also have no confirmation that the cause of death is related to the therapeutic hold, at this time. We just don’t know.”

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, which licenses such residential programs, has begun its own investigation, a spokeswoman, Susan Steele, said Friday. Its regulations require each authorized agency to maintain daily records of the numbers and types of restraints used, she said.

Citing confidentiality laws, Ms. Steele would not answer questions about Corey. Neither would the New York State Education Department, which oversees the school components of the program, where most of the 70 residents, like Corey, have been placed by local education committees because they need special education. About 20 percent of the residents are in foster care.

Outside Leake & Watts, which was founded in the 1830s as an orphanage and is now located on 30 acres on the Hudson River, several of the dead boy’s friends spoke of their love for him and protested the way he had died in interviews posted on, the Web site of The Journal News of White Plains.

“It was a restraint, but at the same time, it was like foul play,” said Antonio Reeder, 17, a classmate. “They were all on top of him.” Malik Legree, another witness, agreed, saying, “It’s not supposed to be where you’re gasping for your life.”

According to an account given to The Journal News by another witness, William Green, the episode began when staff members tried to clear the basketball court so they could play, and several boys, including Corey, continued playing. In that account, a confrontation escalated, and Foster was “taken down” by several staff members who continued to restrain him though he complained that he could not breathe.

Those accounts were challenged by Ms. Berber, the Leake & Watts spokeswoman, who said, “Unfortunately I’m not really at liberty to discuss exactly what happened at the event.”

She said all staff members were trained in using restraining holds as a last resort, as part of a therapeutic crisis-intervention system, known as T.C.I., widely used with emotionally disturbed children.

“While at recreation at the gym, the young man became agitated. Staff attempted to intervene and de-escalate the situation, all per T.C.I. protocol,” she said. “And after that was not successful, he was placed in a therapeutic hold.”

Corey was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers.

The Yonkers police have been interviewing the staff members and witnesses. A detective who declined to give his full name said he could not discuss the videotape.

“It’s still under investigation, and we have no comment at this time,” the detective said.

The staff members involved have been placed on administrative leave, which is routine policy, Ms. Barber said. Grief counselors are working with staff members and students, and a candlelight vigil was held for Corey on Thursday night.

“A terrible tragedy occurred, and we’re all very sad,” she said. “We’re a community in mourning.”

Reddit TroubledTeens: ... iscouraged

Leake & Watts death: Use of force by state on children widely discouraged
12:44 AM, Apr. 20, 2012  |  

Written by
Leah Rae

Among the questions raised by a boy’s death at Leake & Watts residential treatment center Wednesday night is a disturbingly familiar one — the use of physical force and restraints on children in the state’s care.

Force and restraint are only allowed in limited circumstances when someone’s safety is at risk, said Jennifer March-Joly, executive director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “I think that it’s now widely recognized that physical restraint of anyone, a child or an adult in a residential setting, is dangerous,” she said.

Police are still determining how 16-year-old Corey Foster died following a violent confrontation on the basketball court. One witness said the boy was punched by a staff member. Police said multiple staffers were restraining the boy and that he went into cardiac arrest.

The use of restraint has been questioned in high-profile cases including the deaths of teenagers at a Florida boot camp in 2006, an Ohio treatment center in 2008, and a wilderness program in Texas in 2002.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division investigated the use of restraint and force at four upstate New York juvenile detention centers in 2007, and found that the conditions systematically violated juveniles’ constitutional rights. It reached a settlement in 2010 with the Office of Children and Family Services, calling for remedial measures at the facilities.

Agencies licensed with OCFS, which oversees Leake & Watts as a residential treatment center, must have plans in place on the use of restraint and related staff training, said Martha Holden, director Cornell University’s Residential Child Care Project. The state contracts with the Cornell program to train staff at such facilities.

The training concentrates on de-escalating a conflict before any physical intervention becomes necessary, Holden said. She was not familiar with Leake & Watts’ procedures, but OCFS-licensed agencies generally use a system called Therapeutic Crisis Intervention.

Under the TCI system, any physical restraint would use methods designed to avoid any twisting of limbs or putting any weight on the torso, due to the risk of respiratory stress, Holden said. Such responses would usually be handled by two to three staff members, based on specific strategies tailored to children depending on their physical conditions and medications. Each child showing aggressive or high-risk behavior — another Leake & Watts student said Foster had been restrained before — would have a crisis management plan.

“You spend a lot of time training staff in how to do this so that they reduce the risk of injury,” Holden said. “There are biomechanical ways to go about trying to contain dangerous behavior that can be used without harming someone most of the time.”

“If somebody’s totally out of control, a large child, which is what this sounds like, there’s always a risk of somebody getting hurt. It’s not magic.”



Margaret Setterholm · Top commenter · Masters of the Sufi Way
So that's it? This was all just PHYSICAL force gone awry? No it wasn't. These staffers decided to play basketball and do what they wanted, when they wanted, or else. The boy was correct to be upset about this when he was apparently peacefully enjoying playing with his friends - exactly the kind of healthy activity the place would encourage. But it was the staff who just HAD to mess up the peace right then and there and order the kids to leave the court so THEY could play. All that boy did was get upset and throw the ball at the hoop. It accidentally ricochetted to hit a staffer, yet he didn't aim at the staffer. But this group of staffers just HAD to show who's boss and piled on him, even punching him. So tell us this is a "restraint gone awry." No. It was brutality. And now what about the TRAUMA for all the kids there who witnessed this let alone the kids who are aware of it who go to school there. Is there trauma counselling for the witnesses? Trauma counselling for the school? Those kids are REALLY vulnerable now to "act out" expressing their pain over this and the remedy will be MORE restraints? What a nightmare. Thank you Journal News for not burying this issue, and keep up the news coverage.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 08:37

    Jason Michaels · Top commenter · 32 years old
    You are only getting one side of the story. How do you know that he only threw a basketball accidentally? You are basing judgement on what the kids are saying. It could be the absolute truth, but then again it could all be a bunch of b.s. How about waiting for the police to complete their investigation before jumping to conclusions on something you have no idea about.
    Reply · Like · 22 hours ago

Fred Livingstone
Where is that rat Al Sharpton on this??Oh, that's right, the guys who did this are black so he is quiet as a church mouse!!
Reply · Like · Follow Post · Yesterday at 15:50


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