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Bodycam footage released of teen who died after being held at Wichita Juvenile Center

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Bodycam footage released of teen who died after being held at Wichita Juvenile Center

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Kansas officials on Tuesday released body camera footage of the death of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton, a foster child who became unresponsive while being held face down for more than 30 minutes at a juvenile center in Wichita in September.

Video appears to show officers taking Lofton to the center, returning after an emergency medical call and finding staff performing CPR. But they don’t make it clear what happened at the facility before the teenager stopped breathing on September 24.

Cedric Lofton.Action Injury Law Group, LLC

Lofton died on September 26. His death was ruled a homicide and its cause “complications of cardiorespiratory arrest suffered after a physical struggle while restrained in a prone position”.

His family requested charges, but on Tuesday Sedgewick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said no charges would be filed because of the state’s “ground law” and because staff defended himself.

Lofton was taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Wichita early September 24 after police responded to a disturbance at a home around 1 a.m., officials said. According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigations at the time, officers described Lofton as “paranoid” and “behaving erratically”.

Video shows officers talking to Lofton for about an hour, at one point saying they were ‘worried’ for him because of his behavior and were told he had left his foster home, and they also try to convince him to voluntarily go to a hospital.

A struggle ensued and Lofton is placed in a “wraparound” restraint, which is used to restrain someone’s legs and torso, officials said. He was taken to the juvenile center, sitting upright on the floor in a holding room, and officers removed all restraints and left the center, and video showed Lofton standing up as the door was closed.

About an hour after the officers left, they were called back to the center and the video showed staff performing CPR in Lofton as they arrived. EMS then arrives and takes over.

Lofton allegedly became combative in a lobby and at one point punched a staff member in the face, the district attorney said in a report released Tuesday. During a struggle, his legs were chained and he was moved face down, according to the report.

About 40 minutes after he was moved to the ground, workers saw that he was not breathing and could not find a pulse, according to the district attorney’s report.

Bennett said charges could not be brought against the staff due to state self-defense law.

He wrote that there was no evidence that any of the staff put their full weight on him, that Lofton continued to resist and that “throughout the fight there is no evidence that the workers discerned anything from Cedric, either physically or verbally, to indicate Cedric was in physical distress.”

Surveillance video from the juvenile center is seen on a monitor watched by a police officer at one point in body camera footage released by the city.

It appears to show Lofton walking around before there is a struggle between him and two other people as they move him to a holding cell, but this video is not zoomed in.

A staff member told police at the scene that Lofton punched him in the head and they held him down, including by his ankles. “He was talking to us all the time,” the staffer told an officer, police body camera video showed.

Lawyers for the Lofton family said Thursday they were “exploring options as we work to move the potential criminal case and civil case forward.”

The Associated Press contributed.

Bodycam footage released of teen who died after being held at Wichita Juvenile Center

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