Correctional officers sat on top of Cedric Lofton while he was in the prone position for over 20 minutes, contributing to the Black teenager’s death, an attorney representing his family said on Wednesday (Dec. 29). After viewing surveillance video from Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC), lawyer Andrew Stroth told KWCH that “without question,” staff members committed “serious violations” while handling the 17-year-old.
“They brutally mistreat[ed] Cedric,” Stroth told the outlet. Based on the footage, the lawyer said two or three JIAC staff members forced Lofton face down on the ground, in the prone position, and then sat on top of him for 22 to 23 minutes before they called 911. Stroth wants the footage to be released to the public.
As reported by REVOLT, Lofton died while in custody at JIAC back in September. The teen, who suffered from mental health issues, was taken to the facility after an altercation with a police officer who responded to his foster home while he was having a mental health episode. Lofton got into an altercation with staff at JIAC, who shackled his ankles and restrained him in the prone position for an extended period of time before his heart stopped.
On Monday (Dec. 27), an official autopsy declared Lofton’s death a homicide and said he died from “cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle restrained in the prone position.” The teenager also suffered a brain injury, acute kidney injury and acute respiratory failure.
According to KWCH, Sedgwick County officials initially claimed that narcotics may have played a role in Lofton’s death. Authorities said the teen may have taken K2, a synthetic drug, but the autopsy disproved this, showing he only had THCA, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, in his system.
“We knew there was no plausible explanation for his death other than homicide, even though the authorities attempted in every possible way to hide and otherwise misdirect the public in a shameful and disrespectful way,” Stroth said. “But the shocking part is that the authorities, upon notifying the public of Cedric’s death, tried to muddy him up and suggest that it was a result of some type of narcotic or drug use and that is shameful.”
After the release of Monday’s autopsy report, the correctional staff members involved in Lofton’s death have been placed on paid leave. The teenager’s family is calling for criminal charges. Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett is currently reviewing the incident and pledged to complete his investigation within the next three weeks.