On Monday (December 27), a Kansas medical examiner ruled the death of a Black teenager a homicide after he died in police custody.
Seventeen-year-old Cedric Lofton was handcuffed and restrained in the prone position in September after Wichita officers say he “exhibited erratic and aggressive behavior toward his foster family,” according to a report by CNN.
Police say the teen “assaulted officers” who had responded to the scene before he was restrained in the position several use of force experts have repeatedly warned about in previous in-custody death cases.
Sedgwick County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Timothy S. Gorrill said Lofton died of “complications of cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle while restrained in the prone position.”
According to detention facility footage and the police agency’s reports, Lofton had shackles placed around his ankles and was rolled onto his stomach with his arms behind his back at 5:08 a.m. on September 24.
He “calmed down” and had made “occasional snoring noises” the autopsy report states, but by 5:12 a.m., staff members could not find Cedric’s pulse. Two days later, Cedric Lofton died.
The county announced the corrections employees involved in the fatal incident were placed on paid leave, pending an investigation led by District Attorney Marc Bennett.
Bennett’s office along with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Cedric’s death. His family is calling for criminal charges following the release of the autopsy results.
“When a charging decision has been finalized, the public will be notified,” Bennett confirmed, per CNN.
“Cedric’s family anxiously awaits the findings of the criminal investigation and believes the Sedgwick County District Attorney should pursue criminal charges against the law enforcement personnel responsible for Cedric’s death,” the attorneys representing Lofton’s family said in a statement.
“Cedric’s death was caused by the hands of the very authorities that were obligated to protect him and make sure he was safe. Instead, they killed hime with conscious disregard for the young life in their keeping,” the statement continued.
“This is a tragedy of epic proportions! These senseless killings by authorities must stop! Cedric and his family deserved better. Cedric’s family will not rest until they have secured justice for him.”
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.