A Dec. 27 autopsy report has determined that 17-year-old Cedric Lofton’s death was a homicide, contradicting an earlier finding that the Black teenager had not suffered life-threatening injuries while in police custody in a juvenile detention facility, NPR reported.
Lofton was taken into police custody on Sept. 24 on suspicion of battery against police officers in Wichita, Kansas. Two days later, on Sept. 26, he died in detention.
The report said that the teenager’s heart and breathing stopped after being handcuffed while lying on his stomach.
“In my opinion, Cedric Lofton died as a result of complications from cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle while restrained in the prone position,” Chief Medical Examiner Timothy Gorrill wrote in the report. “The manner of death is homicide.”
It was reported that as many as five employees at a Sedgwick County juvenile jail were involved in restraining Lofton, authorities said. The report was filed in Sedgwick County District Court and obtained by NBC affiliate KSN of Wichita.
Lawyers for Lofton’s family said in an email to KSN that the autopsy confirmed what they saw in a video shot inside the jail — that the officers “unjustifiably and with excessive and unreasonable force pinned Cedric to the ground, ultimately killing the unarmed, 135-pound, 17-year-old African American teenager.” The family demanded a copy of the video in October.
There is now a criminal investigation being conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
The employees involved in restraining Lofton have not been identified. They were placed on paid administrative leave, KSN reported.
“They need to stop sending law enforcement to handle situations that should be addressed by medical professionals,” tweeted Jai (J) @CallHerJai.
“A call to any police department on any (Black) person in need of any assistance is literally a death sentence in more ways then one! This is beyond sad. Smh #itriedtotellyou,” tweeted PelhamBx Mr. NewYork @PelhamBx.
According to an account of the events leading to Lofton’s death, he ran away from his foster home on Sept. 21 and returned three days later, exhibiting “erratic and aggressive behavior” toward his foster family.
The family’s lawyers said Lofton had some “light mental health challenges.”
The police report claims that Lofton punched an officer’s head, which resulted in a physical struggle to place Lofton in shackles, NBC News reported. The police officers who responded were to take Lofton to a behavioral health unit at a local hospital. Instead, he was taken to a detention facility, where another struggle ensued.
After the altercation with juvenile center employees started, Lofton’s ankles were shackled. He was also “moved to the floor” and rolled onto his stomach, according to the autopsy report. About 40 minutes later, at 5:08 a.m., officers handcuffed Lofton. He continued to struggle before being handcuffed, NPR reported.
Lofton then “calmed down, making occasional snoring sounds,” the report stated.
When they checked him at 5:12 a.m., he no longer had a pulse. Staff began chest compressions and called emergency personnel just before 5:15 a.m., the report said.
Two days later, Lofton was pronounced dead at a local hospital. According to the report, Lofton’s subsequent treatment at the hospital was complicated by brain injuries caused by a lack of oxygen, as well as respiratory failure and “acute kidney injury.” Lofton also tested positive for covid-19.
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“The family lost their son and their brother, so it’s just a tragic and unjustified death,” said Andrew Stroth, one of the lawyers representing Lofton’s family and a Chicago civil rights attorney. “The family is going to continue to seek answers and pursue all legal remedies available.”
Photo from a Memorial Benefit Fundraiser For Cedric gofundme campaign
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