[ Part 1 ] Cedrick Lindsay: A Black Mother's Tale of Criminal Consequences for a Son with Mental Health Issues
The 82 Tabs team came across a Facebook Live video that made us feel angry, sad, and compelled to act. Black pain, trauma, and death are littered all over the media, but this video touched us in an unexampled way. Sheila Foster, a mother of two, sits at the kitchen table with daughter, Chantay. Together, they share details of their journey navigating the education, criminal justice, and mental health systems of Ohio for their son and brother, Cedrick. Like most mothers, Sheila highlights the best of her son, describing him as kind, full of life, multi-talented, fun loving, and active member of the community. But today, instead of being at home with his mother and sister, this young man sits in jail. In solitary confinement.
The realities of mass incarceration’s affect on Black males is not new. The reality of cruel, unusual punishment and excessive sentencing for people of color is not new. What is new is this narrative that Black people need not be perfect for us to acknowledge injustice. Imperfect victims are still victims— still human and still deserving of constitutional rights. This series will outline how mental health diagnoses fueled the school to prison pipeline for Cedrick, how his mental deterioration has been exacerbated by Ohio’s judicial system, and how this narrative is so commonly swept under the rug.
A Slap in School
The story begins with Sheila describing an incident in 2002 where seven-year-old Cedrick’s teacher slapped him in the face. In the care of his educators, first grader Cedrick experienced an ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) episode triggered by nervousness. Over time, Cedrick had been formally diagnosed with clinical depression, ADHD, ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder), and agoraphobia. In the midst of his breakdown, the teacher smacked him. He came home from school crying with a heartbreaking expression of shame. Sheila says her son’s face was, “as red as cherries." Distraught and outraged, Ms. Foster immediately visited the school where the administration admitted that the teacher had inappropriately utilized corporal punishment. To which, the principal alerted Ms. Foster that she would “handle the matter.”
Unsatisfied with this response, Sheila filed an official police report and took Cedrick to the emergency room. The police report was immediately dismissed because the public prosecutor, Anthony Manning, saw no wrongdoing. Horrified, Ms. Foster contacted the NAACP, the ACLU, and various news publications, all in hopes of receiving justice for little Cedrick. Instead, this publicity only led to Sheila being asked to evacuate her home. From that moment on, Ms. Foster became vigilant in observing Cedrick’s treatment in public schools because she knew that he would undoubtedly face a special form of adversity as a black male with mental health diagnoses. Additionally, to these emotional and psychological issues, it was later discovered that Cedrick was operating with learning disabilities. At fifteen years old, Cedrick was operating with the behavioral and academic consciousness of a nine-year-old.
A Crime is Committed
In 2014, at the age of 20, Cedrick was incarcerated for the first time. He committed a carjacking while experiencing a manic episode. Police reported that Lindsay pulled a knife on a man in the parking lot of the victim’s apartment building, took the man’s keys, and drove away in his Ford Taurus. Once the stolen car was identified, the officer tried to pull the vehicle over, but Lindsay refused to stop. He led police on a brief chase that ended in a nonfatal collision. Lindsay was charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular assault, theft, driving under suspension, failure to comply with a lawful order from police, and obstructing official business.
While in jail, he was not allowed any of his psychiatric or asthma medications. Out of sheer concern, other inmates began to vehemently inform Ms. Foster that Cedrick was suffering at the hands of one guard in particular. Corrections Officer Joel Miller Jr. allegedly regularly refused to give Cedrick his asthma medication. Once notified, Sheila quickly disclosed this information to the local oversight regulatory committee. After which Ms. Foster alleges that Miller retaliated by attacking Cedrick in the bathrooms away from cameras. According to Ms. Foster, when Cedrick fought back in self-defense, he was mauled by a group of guards, spat on, stomped, then restrained in a chair for over eight hours with shackles cutting into his flesh. While restrained, Cedrick experienced an asthma attack and urinated on himself. This altercation resulted in a new criminal charge; felonious assault.
According to The Chronicle, Lindsay was accused of breaking Miller’s nose during the altercation, which began after Miller ordered Lindsay to return to his bunk from the bathroom after guards smelled cigarette smoke. The Chronicle also mentions that following that fight, Lindsay was placed in a disciplinary unit where problem inmates can’t leave unless they are wearing shackles. And, since that fight, officials note that Lindsay has been involved in other violent episodes including fighting and threatening other inmates. There is no public mention of Lindsay’s psychiatric conditions in regards to this incidence.
An Unfortunate Coincidence
At the advice of his attorney, during the trial for the felonious assault charge, a mentally incompetent Cedrick plead guilty in exchange for a plea deal regarding his carjacking case. The same publicly appointed attorney who encouraged Cedrick to plead guilty was the exact same publicly appointed attorney who did not press charges against Lindsay’s first-grade teacher.
As of today, Cedrick is 24 years old and waiting for a psychiatric evaluation before the judges make a final decision on his case. He is currently housed in solitary confinement, not receiving the medical support he needs to maintain his sanity.
Part Two of this series will discuss the legal intricacies of this case—specifically negligence in due process and the role of psychiatric dockets. We will also share Chantay, Cedrick’s sister’s, perspective on growing up with her younger brother. There is a multitude of issues to unpack here, but we are willing to dig deeper in hopes of contributing to the larger discussion of mental health amongst black males and its role in mass incarceration.
If you are an attorney and would like to get involved in Cedrick’s case, email email@example.com!