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Attorney for Cedric Lofton’s family describes what’s in surveillance video, death investigation continues

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 7:04 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The attorney for Cedric Lofton’s family on Wednesday, spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News and described what’s in the surveillance video that shows the situation at the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC)that led to the 17-year-old’s death.

In late September, Lofton died while in custody. The teen’s death immediately led to an investigation and this week, an autopsy classified his death as a homicide. This does not mean that a crime occurred, but Lofton’s family is calling for criminal charges, as well as more transparency in the investigation, including the release of surveillance video.

“There is without question, serious violations of acceptable practices as it relates to restraining a young man and then forcing him into a prone position and the abusing him essentially, sitting on him,” Attorney Andrew Stroth said.

Stroth said from the video, it appears two or three corrections staff at JIAC sat on top of Lofton for 22 to 23 minutes before 911 was called. He wants the video released to the public. Following the release of the autopsy on Lofton this week, corrections staff involved were placed on paid leave.

“They brutally mistreat Cedric,” Stroth said. “This is a poster-child case for excessive force, and under circumstances, which you’re supposed to be providing for his safety, heath and welfare.”

Sedgwick County has not released details of what’s on the video and wouldn’t comment on what Stroth is saying. Initially, the county suggested that narcotics may have played a role in Lofton’s death. That autopsy shows the teen had THCA in his system, but no other drugs. He did have COVID-19 at the time of his death. Sedgwick County and the sheriff’s office initially discussed Lofton potentially having the synthetic drug, K2 in his system. The autopsy shows this was not the case and says the cause of Lofton’s death was cardiopulmonary arrest, sustained after a physical struggle restrained in the prone position. That means Lofton was face down when his heart stopped.

“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.”

The county won’t comment on what the video shows, but Eyewitness News did learn Wednesday that Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett will complete his review of the case in the next 10 to 15 business days. The DA also wanted to clarify that just because an autopsy report classifies a death as a homicide, that does not imply it was criminal.

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