In September of 2021, Cedric Lofton, 17 was involved in an interaction with law enforcement in Kansas and it did not end up well for him; now he joins a long list of African Americans who have died as a result of this encounter with authorities. Cedric was handcuffed and then placed in a prone position while in custody and soon he was dead. It took nearly 4 months before a Sedgwick County autopsy report indicated that the death was in fact a homicide.
Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Timothy Gorrill wrote in the autopsy report that the cause of death was most likely related to complications caused by difficulty in breathing, while Cedric was restrained in the prone position.
On September 24, 2021, Cedric Lofton had exhibited severe aggression and erratic behavior towards his foster family in Wichita. KS. Police were called to the home but Cedric was non-compliant with the police and had to be restrained because he assaulted several of the officers.
He was first booked at the police station on four counts of battery to a law enforcement officer; then he was then transported to Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake & Assessment Center (JIAC). Video footage and documents from law enforcement collected from the facility reveal a chronology of events that followed after the arrival of Cedric.
Soon after admission to the facility, Cedric remained agitated and uncooperative and later punched a staff member at JIAC. Because of his volatile behavior, Cedric had shackles placed on his ankles, rolled into the prone position with his hands handcuffed behind his back. He then immediately calmed down and was heard making the occasional snoring noises. Within 4 minutes of being shackled, staff was unable to arouse Cedric and by the time they assessed him, he had no pulses. They initiated CPR and called 911. Cedric was taken to a nearby hospital but never regained consciousness. Two days later he passed away. Based on these events the coroner ruled that homicide was the cause of death. The urine test revealed that Cedric had marijuana in his blood and he tested positive for covid-19.
Cedric Lofton’s death is just one more link to other individuals who have been restrained in the prone position where the person is forced to lie down on his stomach with his face down. In this position, there is great difficulty breathing and this is made worse when the individual has his hands tied behind his back and is unable to move his legs. When the individual is on his stomach, the heart does not get the much-needed oxygen and consequently, the brain is not perfused; if the brain is unable to get oxygen for more than 4 minutes, brain death can result.
During the trial of law enforcement officer Derek Cahuvain who was charged with killing George Floyd, medical experts who testified for the prosecution stated that the prone position was the major contributor to his death. However, experts for law enforcement have challenged this medical supposition and have claimed that the prone position is safe.
But now with the coroner stating that Cedric’s death was a homicide, this has changed the game. The family of Cedric has called for a criminal charge to be filed against the employees at JIAC. Since the autopsy results were released, correction employees at JIA have been placed on paid administrative leave until the DA has completed an investigation. So far county officials have not made any comments on the autopsy results.
But the District Attorney, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the sheriff’s office in Sedgwick country have started to review the death and initiated an investigation as to what happened to Cedric.
Soon after George Floyd’s death, law enforcement across the nation was discouraged from using the prone position to restrain prisoners. And the family of Cedric Lofton has become very vocal and insisted that charges must be filed against the employees at JIAC.
There is solid video evidence that unreasonable force was used to restrain Cedric who only weighed 135 pounds and was shackled. The biggest tragedy was that Cedric was left unmonitored while in a prone position and it is only when he stopped breathing that someone noticed things had gone wrong.
What happens next will depend on the investigation by the DA’s office. What is alarming about this case is that Cedric’s death was caused by the very people who were mandated to protect him from harm. Instead, they completely disregarded his safety and killed him. Unfortunately, this is just another senseless killing of a young African American at the hands of authorities; but one thing is assured, Cedric’s family will not rest until the people who killed him are brought to justice.