WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – An autopsy report on Monday showed the death of 17-year-od Cedric Lofton following a physical struggle with staff at a Kansas juvenile center was the result of a homicide.

Lofton died in the hospital on Sept. 26 of cardiopulmonary arrest. His death came two days after a physical struggle while being “restrained in the prone position” at the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center.

According to Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter, Lofton’s foster father called 911 saying his son was having a mental breakdown on Sept. 24. The father wanted his foster son evaluated for mental health issues.

Officers tried to persuade Lofton to voluntarily seek mental health treatment before trying to take him into custody, but he resisted and assaulted the officers. He was taken to the JIAC on charges of suspicion of battering a law enforcement officer.

A timeline released by authorities showed that Wichita police left Lofton at the center only to be asked to return about an hour later because Lofton was having mental issues and was combative with staff.

DOCUMENT | Cedric Lofton Autopsy Report

That timeline shows that staff at the center were already conducting CPR on Lofton by the time Wichita police returned to the center. Emergency medical responders were able to get Lofton’s heart started before transporting him to the hospital.

The autopsy goes onto to say Lofton remained unresponsive in the hospital, and he was pronounced dead on Sept. 26.

The autopsy states Lofton’s drug screen was positive for cannabinoids. He also tested positive for COVID-19.

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Sedgwick County Corrections employees involved have been placed on paid administrative leave pending results of the District Attorney’s investigation.

In a statement released Wednesday, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says an autopsy’s finding that the death of Cedric Lofton doesn’t necessarily mean the center’s employees committed any crimes. 

His statement came after attorneys for Lofton’s family described his death as “unjustified.” But Bennett said the designation of the death as a homicide means only that someone’s intentional act led to another person’s death.

Bennett’s office anticipates completing the review in the next 10-15 business days.

Statement on behalf of the family of Cedric Lofton

Today, the Chief Medical Examiner for Sedgwick County, Kansas, confirmed that Cedric Lofton’s death was a homicide. According to the Medical Examiner, Cedric suffered “cardiopulmonary arrest … after a physical struggle while restrained in the prone position.”

This confirms our belief that Sedgwick County personnel at the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC) in Wichita killed Cedric. As supportedby the video evidence, these individuals unjustifiably and with excessive andunreasonable force pinned Cedric to the ground, ultimately killing the unarmed, 135-pound, 17-year-old African American teenager.

Cedric’s family anxiously awaits the findings of the criminal investigation and believes the Sedgwick County District Attorney should pursue criminal charges against the law enforcement personnel responsible for Cedric’s death.

Cedric’s death was caused by the hands of the very authorities that were obligated to protect him and make sure he was safe. Instead, they killed him with conscious disregard for the young life in their keeping. This is a tragedy of epic proportions!

These senseless killings by authorities must stop! Cedric and his family deserved better.

Cedric’s family will not rest until they have secured justice for him.

Civil Rights Attorneys Steven Hart and Andrew M. Stroth

Statement on behalf of the NAACP

The autopsy findings of the Lofton case are alarming. Whether negligent or intentional, seventeen year-old Cedric Lofton’s death was unconscionable and inhumane.

The perpetrator(s) of his injustice must be fully prosecuted. As a community, city, state, and country, we cannot continue with the violent intersection of law enforcement and the Black community.

These preventable tragedies further erode the trust between law enforcement and the Black community. It is time to admit certain fundamental platforms of our criminal justice system are in desperate need of reform. Reforms at the administrative and legislative levels must be implemented immediately. If not, we will continue to suffer from a broken criminal justice system and malfeasance by those who violate their oath to practice equality and service at every level.

It is now in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office to bring charges and ensure those individuals are held accountable for this grave injustice.

Mr. Larry Burks Sr.
President
Wichita Branch NAACP