Updated: Dec 30, 2021
The death of Cedric Lofton, a teenager who lost consciousness after he was handcuffed at a county juvenile center in Wichita, Ks., while lying facedown, was a homicide, says a Kansas medical examiner. The finding came several months after authorities said that a preliminary autopsy suggested that the teenager, Lofton, 17, had not suffered life-threatening injuries while in custody. He was arrested on Sept. 24 when the police were called to a house in Wichita after he began “exhibiting erratic and aggressive behavior” toward his foster family, said a Sedgwick County autopsy report. Police took Lofton to a county juvenile center, where he fought with correctional staff members, who placed shackles on his ankles, rolled him onto his abdomen and handcuffed his wrists behind his back,. He appeared to calm down and made “snoring sounds” but when staff members checked for a pulse four minutes later, they could not find one. He did not regain consciousness and died two days later.
Corrections employees involved in the episode have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of the district attorney’s investigation. Lofton was a high school senior and planned to move to California after graduation to pursue a musical career, said Andrew Stroth, a Chicago lawyer representing the teenager’s biological parents and his older brother. “He had a future and a life that was taken away by the authorities in Wichita,” Stroth said. The family has been trying to get answers from officials for months about the death of Lofton and are frustrated by a “lack of transparency” from law enforcement, he said.