WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Video of Wichita teen Cedric Lofton in custody is raising the question, what can be learned from his case?
As a therapist passionate about mental health, Michael McKenzie had his own concerns. After watching the videos, McKenzie believes the focus was not on the 17 year old’s reported mental health crisis.
“Unfortunately, I think that there was that there was such a need to get him to comply, that that might have been overlooked,” the licensed therapist said.
McKenzie does not know the specifics of Lofton’s mental health issues. However, from his experience, he believes Lofton was not able to communicate his needs at that moment.
“This young man was actually having, obviously a mental health crisis, and de-escalation is everything,” he said.
The video shows moments where Lofton is reacting with violence. One part shows Lofton punching a Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center employee.
“Fear is a primary emotion. Anger is a secondary emotion, typically to fear and so he was not angry. That aggression, I believe was fear,” he explained.
De-escalation needs to be a focus, McKenzie says, “I think a lot of it is stepping back from what you’re wanting the child to do, and let’s look at what’s going on. Let’s make sure everyone is safe, but immediate compliance isn’t always necessary.”
This is why McKenzie believes advocates for those in crisis are important.
“Hear the child’s concerns, speak for that child’s concerns,” McKenzie said. “He is flooded. He’s not able to communicate with them, and sometimes the person who steps up as the advocate needs to consider that, and I didn’t see that he had a lot of advocates there.”
McKenzie stresses he does not have a law enforcement background, these are just his thoughts from mental health expertise.