WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Several groups are asking that U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland take over the investigation of a Wichita teenager who died after a struggle at Sedgwick County’s Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC).
The case involves Cedric Lofton, the 17-year-old whose foster father called 911 on Sept. 24 because he thought the teen needed mental health care. Police who responded said he appeared paranoid and was behaving erratically.
The incident turned into a struggle between officers and Lofton, and they took him to JIAC. Shortly after police left him there, JIAC called for police to come back and take him to a hospital because he was having mental issues and was fighting with staff.
The sheriff’s office said that JIAC staff restrained Lofton, and he became unresponsive. Before police arrived, employees started doing CPR on him. EMS took him to a hospital, where he died on Sept. 26.
An autopsy report showed that Lofton’s death was the result of a homicide.
District Attorney Marc Bennett said the state’s “stand your ground” law prevents him from bringing charges because of evidence showing Lofton hitting several staff members from JIAC and JDF (Juvenile Detention Facility).
Tuesday morning, a coalition led by the national Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the national Journey For Justice organization, and Kansas Justice Advocate, Inc. will hold a news conference at the Sedgwick County Courthouse. The group says it will demand Garland take over the Lofton investigation and appoint an independent investigator. It also said it wants Bennett removed from the case.
In a news release, the coalition said that Bennett has dealt with a number of cases of law enforcement officers killing unarmed Black men over the last nine years. It said he has never indicted any of the officers.
KSN reached out to Bennett’s office for a response. He referred us to his news conference and his report from Jan. 18.
The coalition also said that the 23-person community task force that looked into juvenile corrections was not given access to personnel records, subpoena power or the authority to interview the JIAC employees.
The news release ended with this comment:
“The coalition is intent upon not allowing this waiting-for-things-to-blow-over pattern to repeat itself.”