Supporters Outraged That Kansas DA Won’t Charge Anyone In Black Teen’s In-Custody Death

An autopsy ruled Cedric Lofton’s death was a homicide.

The family of a Black teen who died in police custody was outraged after a Kansas prosecutor cleared officers at a Wichita juvenile center of wrongdoing.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett cited Kansas’ “stand-your-ground” rule in his decision on Tuesday (Jan. 18) not to file criminal charges, the Associated Press reports.

According to the AP, Lofton’s family called the prosecutor’s decision “yet another instance of an unarmed Black teenager killed by law enforcement with impunity, threat of reprisal or even an ounce of accountability.”

In September, Cedric Lofton, 17, became unresponsive while Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake Assessment Center staff restrained him facedown for more than 30 minutes after Lofton allegedly assaulted staff. The prosecutor argued that staff members were protecting themselves.

About a dozen supporters of Lofton’s family gathered Tuesday to protest the decision and demanded the release of videos to show exactly what happened in the facility, local station KAKE reported. An autopsy in December ruled Lofton’s death as a homicide.

RELATED: Autopsy Report Deemed Black Teen’s Detention Center Death A Homicide

Family spokesman Pastor Maurice Evans, known as “Pastor Moe,” said Tuesday that the teenager’s family filed an open-records lawsuit and plan to challenge the prosecutor’s decision.

"Was Cedric just laying there alone? And they just happened to be sitting beside, and then he was asphyxiated? Or were they on top of him? This is what the video will show. And this is what Marc has been afraid to show since the beginning," the pastor said. "I think there's multiple people that will probably have to be held accountable. And so we're gonna have to go through different means since Marc doesn't feel that he should do his job."

A video of his comments is below.

The prosecutor said Lofton was living with foster parents when Wichita police answered a call on Sept. 24 about a disturbance. They found Lofton outside the house having a mental health crisis. The 5-foot-10, 135-pound Lofton allegedly assaulted at least one cop before they restrained and transported the teen to the juvenile center.

Bennett said Lofton got into an altercation with the staff. He was accused of hitting an intake specialist before several other staff members arrived to help. They shackled Lofton’s ankles, put him on his stomach on the floor, then struggled with him some more before handcuffing him, the prosecutor said. They realized at some point that Lofton had no pulse.

The autopsy said that the teen’s heart and breathing stopped after he was handcuffed while lying on his stomach, according to the AP.

“The bottom line is: The video, the interviews of the employees, even the coroner’s findings that the death was caused by the effect of a prolonged struggle support the workers’ explanation that they only held him down because he continued to struggle that entire time,” Bennett said.

He continued, “If they have the ability to defend themselves initially, because he resisted, then the fact that he continued to resist for some 30 minutes meant that they could under Kansas law continue to lawfully apply the restraint.”

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