Surveillance and body camera footage have been published that reveal what happened leading up to the death of Cedric Lofton, a 17-year-old Black foster child who died after being transferred to a juvenile detention center in Wichita, Kansas, last October.
After being held face down and in handcuffs by adults for more than 30 minutes, videos show the youngster becoming unresponsive.
However, due to the state’s “stand your ground” legislation, no charges will be filed, according to a Kansas district attorney.
Two sets of footage, one from the police and the other from the county juvenile center, were released last week in connection with the case. They provided insight into the circumstances surrounding Cedric Lofton’s death on Sept. 26, two days after being restrained while in the custody of the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC) in Wichita.
Lofton’s foster father summoned police to his home at 1 a.m. on Sept. 24, where the officers first saw the teenager acting “erratically” outside.
Officers spoke with him for about an hour, trying to persuade him to go to the hospital, according to the police video. Lofton appears to be composed but reserved. He was barely engaging the cops and not looking at them.
Lofton resisted the officers, prompting them to use the WRAP restraint to confine him, binding his legs and feet while handcuffing his arms.
A conversation between the cops over where they should transport Lofton is captured on tape. JIAC or Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph, a medical center where he could get a mental health evaluation, were the two possibilities. The cops chose to transport him to a juvenile correctional center, which is a facility for young individuals who have committed crimes.
Lofton was placed in a cell after law enforcement left him in the custody of JIAC staff. Later, staffers told the DA that he was “behaving strangely” in the cell.
Lofton was invited out of the cell by the JIAC intake officer at 4:20 a.m. His objective was to describe the center’s intake procedure.
Lofton’s jacket is seen in a chair at one point in the video. Lofton lunges to retrieve it after the admissions officer swipes it. The Intake officer summons a correctional officer within 10 minutes of bringing him from the cell to the foyer. As the boy approaches the intake counter, they both double-team him. Lofton flails and hits one of the workers in the face at 4:27 a.m., and they both grasp and pull him away from the counter.
The tape shows the conflict growing with the two men wrestling the 153-pound Lofton to the ground in a different cell. At this time, two more employees rush in to assist the two men who had already defeated the teenager.
From the angle, the staffers are seen holding Lofton in the prone position on his stomach.
When the personnel couldn’t feel Lofton’s pulse after nearly 30 minutes at 5:08 a.m., they rolled him over on his back.
At 5:13 a.m., the staff attempted chest compressions, and the juvenile center’s supervisor dialed 911. Another staff member rushes over to retrieve a defibrillator, but JIAC did not have one.
EMTs arrived in seven minutes, released his handcuffs, and took him to the lobby. They were able to get a pulse on Lofton at 5:37 a.m., and he was on his way to the hospital in 16 minutes.
The high school kid died of “complications of cardiac arrest experienced following physical resistance while held in the prone position,” according to an autopsy report.
At a news conference, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett stated that the facility’s personnel and prison officers acted in self-defense under the “stand your ground” rule in this case. The boy fought with those assigned to keep him safe, as well as the staff and other residents, putting their lives in jeopardy.
Bennett claimed that pursuing those responsible for Lofton’s killing would be wrong because Lofton fought them.
The boy died one day before his 18th birthday, according to the Scope of Report issued the same day as the video. According to the report, he was admitted to JIAC on September 24, rushed to Wesley Medical Center later that day, and proclaimed dead on September 26.
He pointed out that, while the medical examiner declared the death a “homicide,” the office is not permitted to make a legal judgment on the method of death.
The staff members, for their part, were attempting to detain a youngster they considered was a threat and could do them “bodily harm.”
Kansas stand your ground laws allow people “the use of force against another when and to the extent it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such use of force is necessary to defend such person or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
“The video, staff interviews, and the coroner’s conclusions regarding the effect of a lengthy struggle support the conclusion that Cedric continued to offer resistance to the physical restraints being put to his hands and legs,” the report stated. “The fact that he continued to resist for another thirty minutes meant that the staff could continue to use restraint lawfully.”
Civil rights attorneys Andrew M. Stroth and Steven Hart, who represent the Lofton family, disagree with the DA.
They claim that by tying him in a prone position, the staff members “took his breath away,” and that Bennett’s decision not to charge is again another example of no one accepting responsibility for the death of another unarmed Black adolescent.
“This is yet another case of an unarmed Black teen being killed by law enforcement with impunity,” the family said in a statement distributed by the lawyers, adding that there was no “fear of reprisal or even an ounce of accountability.” “Cedric’s death was caused by authorities obligated to safeguard him, similar to the George Floyd case. They restrained Cedric in the prone position and stole his breath away in this situation.”