Two men have been arrested in the strangulation death of a 16-year-old Chicago boy who lived in the troubled youth facility where they worked.
James Davis, 37, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice in the death of Shaquan Allen. Justin Serak, 27, has been charged with obstruction of justice.
Allen was having a behavioral episode when Davis and Serak each grabbed hold of an arm and tried to drag him to his bedroom at the Allendale Association in Lake Villa, police said.
As the struggle continued, Serak grabbed Allen’s legs while Davis ‘put him in a chokehold’ to take control of the teen’s upper body, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim said.
Allen immediately lost consciousness, but it would be 15 minutes before any of the residential facility’s staff called 911, authorities said.
One of the men then tried to revive Allen by throwing water at his face. Davis and Serak initially told police that the teen slipped and fell after knocking over a cup of water to explain his injuries, Nerheim said.
There were up to 16 witnesses and a staff nurse tried to resuscitate Allen before the emergency call was finally placed to Lake Villa police, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Allen was pronounced dead at the hospital on Wednesday night. The cause of death was listed as suffocation due to asphyxiation.
The teen’s death has devastated his family, who revealed that Allen had been receiving treatment at the facility for three years after problems began in 2007 following his father’s death.
‘I want to know how could this happen to my baby,’ Allen’s mother Willie Mae Allen said.
‘Nobody is telling me anything to let me know what’s really going on. He was only 16 years old. I didn’t send him there for that.’
‘I sent him to get help, because I didn’t want to lose him to the streets.’
Cannon Lambert Sr, the family’s attorney, said they were told three different versions of Allen’s death and that ‘none of them coincide with each other’.
Authorities said the 16 witnesses contracted Davis’ and Serak’s account of what happened to Allen.
It was Serak who then told police they had made up their original story, according to the Daily Herald.
‘It’s really disturbing for his mother to have this happen,’ Lambert told the Tribune.
‘She is in a gang-riddled area and she was trying her best to keep him out of harm’s way. This type of thing shouldn’t be happening.’
Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed. A lawsuit has not yet been filed in Allen’s death.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which was 53 wards of the state at Allendale, is also investigating the incident and all intakes at the facility have been put on hold.
Allendale Association is a private, nonprofit that houses more than 300 adolescents with moderate to profound emotional and behavioral disabilities.
Daily Mail Online has reached out to the Allendale Association for comment.
It describes itself as a place that helps kids be ‘safe, sound and ready to learn,’ on its website.
This has been the fourth incident at the facility in the last 10 years. Police previously responded to two separate incidents of misdemeanor battery, as well as an inappropriate texting incident.
Davis remained in custody this weekend on $1million bail. Serak’s bail was set at $50,000 and he was released after posting bond on Saturday.
Asielene Allen, the teen’s grandmother, said that the tragedy has left the family devastated and his mother unable to sleep.
‘My heart is really hurting,’ she said.
‘It feels like my heart is going to come out.’