DA: No Charges Filed in Cedric Lofton Homicide

Gia Hernandez, Reporter

Cedric Lofton (12)

No criminal charges will be filed in the death of Southeast senior Cedric Lofton. On Sept. 24, police were called to the home of Lofton and his foster family for a mental health crisis.

When the police arrived and tried to put Lofton into a patrol car, there was a struggle and Lofton was restrained using a WRAP device and taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC).

At some point during his time in custody there was an altercation between officers and Lofton, during which he was physically restrained. Lofton was handcuffed and placed face down in his cell for 45 minutes.

 Officers then noticed that Lofton was not breathing and began CPR. Lofton was brought to Wesley Medical Center. Two days later he was pronounced dead. 

Lofton’s death was ruled a homicide due to “Complications of cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after a physical struggle while restrained in the prone position.” A homicide is the killing of one human being by another. This is different from a murder which is also known as a “criminal homicide.” In other words, it’s when the killing of another person can’t be justified as reasonable.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett announced at a press conference that he will not file charges against those involved in Lofton’s death. Bennet said that they acted in self defense, according to the “stand your ground” law.

The stand your ground Law is a law that allows a citizen to protect themselves, using deadly force if necessary, if they feel that their life is in danger, regardless if they could have left the situation or not.

Bennett stated that, because Lofton resisted and struggled against the JIAC staff, they are immune from prosecution.

…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. “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.”

There are many people who are unhappy with the results of the case and the circumstances in which Lofton died, including Maurice Evans, who is serving as the spokesperson for Lofton’s family. 

“[Bennett] came up with all these definitions of homicide that would mean no punishment. And then finally, the stretch and reach that he went to say that it was self defense covered by stand your ground. Not sure how that’s possible, but Cedric was prone on the ground and cuffed behind his back, feet shackled, four people on top of him. I’m missing the self defense or the fear for their life,” Evans said. “And so, we’re not satisfied with the lack of transparency, we’re not satisfied with the lack of accountability, and they should be losing sleep at night.”

Although there will be no charges in the case, there is a task force of local community leaders and volunteers who have set out to solve problems and raise awareness to problems within the foster care system and the incarceration system.

The task force has had mixed reviews, however. Some believe that it is noble but not enough. 

“This is a long term solution that needs to be really looked into. We need somebody who’s not been in this, to come in with a fresh set of eyes, and can be as neutral as possible,” County Commissioner Lacy Cruse said. 

Although there are mixed reviews about the task force, one common thought among many community members and leaders is that there needs to be some type of change.

“If there’s a child in need of mental health then they’re given the help that they need immediately. And we look at the need of the child mentally and physically instead of the automatic discipline, discipline and correction of behavior,” Cedric’s teacher Traci Kallhoff said.

Kansas Governor, Laura Kelly, has announced in late Jan. that there will be an investigation into Lofton’s death through the Department for Children and Families. Along with the local investigations, County Commissioner David Dennis revealed that the FBI will be reviewing the case as well.