‘How many more Black children need to die?’ Lawsuit filed in Cedric Lofton’s death

The lawsuit filed in federal court aims to hold individual officers, supervisors and both Wichita and Sedgwick counties responsible for Lofton’s death.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 3:34 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KCTV) - The family of Cedric Lofton has filed a lawsuit in federal court following his death in September of 2021.

Seventeen-year-old Cedric Lofton was in the Kansas foster care system. His foster family reached out to DCF asking for mental health interventions, and they were directed to contact the police. Lofton was taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC) in Wichita.

What happened next has become the focus of national news and is now a lawsuit filed by Cedric Lofton’s brother, Marquan Teetz.

“More than anything we want to see prosecution. We want to show That you can’t get away with this. That the police can’t get away with what they did,” said Marquan Teetz.

The lawsuit filed in federal court aims to hold individual officers, supervisors and both Wichita and Sedgwick counties responsible for Lofton’s death.

Attorneys and activists called for a separate Department of Justice investigation into what happened.

September 24, 2021

The new filing outlines how Cedric Lofton had recently lost his grandmother and had walked away from foster care. He returned to his home where police intercepted him.

New images embedded in the lawsuit show what appears to be body camera footage and a description of the conversation Cedric had with officers. He reportedly expressed confusion and believed people were trying to kill him. The lawsuit claims he was tired and afraid.

“Y’all are here to protect me, right?” said Cedric Lofton.

Lofton was placed in a restraint system, known as WRAP, and taken to intake.

Attorneys argue he needed a hospital but this was easier and almost a form of punishment.

This still image from a security camera provided by Sedgwick County shows Cedric Lofton talking...
This still image from a security camera provided by Sedgwick County shows Cedric Lofton talking with staff on Sept. 24, 2021 at the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Wichita, Kan. A community task force reviewing the death of the Black teenager who was restrained for more than 30 minutes learned that a police officer changed his answers on a form that otherwise would have led police to take the teen to a hospital instead of booking him into the detention center. The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday, April 10, 2022 that a Sedgwick County official who oversees admissions into the detention center told the task force that the officer initially reported there were signs that Lofton needed medical attention but he changed his answers after being told the teen would need a medical review if he said yes on the form. (Sedgwick County via AP)((Sedgwick County via AP))

“Here’s what makes this case so devastating. The Wichita Police Department has a history of instead of taking individuals to hospitals, where they can get mental health treatment. They dropped them off and JICA and they dropped them off almost as a punitive measure to punish children who are suffering a mental health crisis,” said attorney Andrew Stroth.

The lawsuit points to autopsy reports and videos showing Cedric Lofton was eventually placed in handcuffs and placed in the prone position for 39 minutes. Staff attempted to revive Lofton but he was eventually taken off life-support.

The autopsy report concluded, “complications of cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle restrained in the prone position.”

Questions raised about policies

Cedric Lofton’s death sparked outrage from some childcare advocates who question how a child in need could end up restrained and ultimately dead.

Governor Kelly directed DFC to “thoroughly investigate his case to ensure policy and procedures were properly followed, and to determine if these procedures need to be changed or refined.” The Sedgewick County prosecutor declined to press charges saying Kansas “Stand Your Ground” law allows people to protect themselves.

FILE - This April 21, 2019 photo provided by Sarah Harrison shows Cedric Lofton of Wichita, Kan.
FILE - This April 21, 2019 photo provided by Sarah Harrison shows Cedric Lofton of Wichita, Kan.(Courtesy Sarah Harrison via AP)

The Associated Press sent emails seeking comment Monday to the county and Wichita police. Sedgwick County’s Corrections Director Glenda Martens has described what happened as “tragic” but said that the corrections workers followed policy in restraining the teen. Wichita police have said they’ve been looking into the actions officers took when booking the teen.

The lawsuit heavily criticizes the practices and policies which played a role in Cedric Lofton ending up at a juvenile intake center and not at a hospital. It says officers lacked proper de-escalation training and deficiencies were noted in a 2016 Kansas Department of Corrections report.