Continued calls for transparency in Cedric Lofton case as DA’s decision is expected soon

CJ Lofton Case Transparency
Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 9:39 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Cedric Lofton case continues to draw calls from the community for accountability and transparency.

It’s as what’s next in the case remains in the hands of the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, which is reviewing the case.

For community activists like Treva Smith, Lofton’s case is getting much of her attention, and she’s among those working to make sure many people are watching as well.

“It’s all about unity. We’re all trying to get one thing accomplished. We’re all out for one thing to get accomplished is justice for Mr. Lofton,” said Smith.

What happened to Lofton is a case and point for Smith, who sees it as an example of the systems failing people of color.

Smith said, “It’s not getting any better. We’re just going around in circles and circles. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything, so I’m standing.”

Bryce Graham describes the need to continue to protest, raising voices and seeing similar situations repeat as tiring.

Graham said, “Have a tendency to talk about the symptoms as opposed to the root causes of issues. These types of scenarios, when you talk about what do I hope comes of it, mass uprising. Mass change could be my hope.”

She went on to say, “It’s about a change. Racism still exists here in Wichita. Everyone says we’re getting better. We’ll get a step forward, but then we get two steps back.”

She is working to support the efforts of those who have been advocating on behalf of Lofton and his family. That includes a petition introduced last week at a protest seeking a special prosecutor, the release of video footage and the names of those involved.

“Let us see what happened.” Smith said, “You may say one thing, but our eyes are seeing something different. Our eyes may tell a totally different story.”

Lofton died in September after being taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center.

Graham said, “All too often, where we’re reaching out and calling for help and the individuals that are supposed to provide that help for us end up being more of a harm to us than a help.”

An autopsy later listed the manner of death as a homicide, which is not a legal conclusion but indicates the death was the result of someone else’s actions.

“Knee jerk reaction in these types of scenarios is that it could have been me. That’s why it’s real to me. That’s why it’s not real for a lot of people because they can’t see themselves in a situation like what CJ was in,” said Graham.

In the timeline provided by the DA’s office at the end of December, it could be as early as this week they complete their case review. They’ve been reviewing the results of two separate investigations, the autopsy report and other evidence.

The DA’s office said once that review is complete, they’ll decide if criminal charges will be filed and release the information to the public. They also noted that a recusal to an outside prosecutor wasn’t warranted in this case based on Kansas law.

Smith said she will keep up the effort to bring attention to Lofton’s case. She’s planning a car parade for January 21, beginning at 3 pm at McAdam’s Park and driving to 13th and Hillside. She organized a similar event following the death of George Floyd.

Smith and Graham said people need to continue to talk about this case for the long term and on a large scale.

Smith said, “We’re going to keep this alive until justice is received.”

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