The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case of a teen who died two days after he was restrained at a juvenile facility.
Cedric “CJ” Lofton of Wichita, died on Sept. 26 at a hospital two days after he was restrained by staff at the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Wichita.
Authorities said on Monday that time passed between when a restraint device called WRAP was used on Lofton and when he lost consciousness and was subsequently transported from the facility to the hospital, The Wichita Eagle reported.
In a Thursday update, authorities said preliminary autopsy results showed that there were only minor injuries to Lofton’s body, and none that would have been fatal. Just scratches and a bruise were found on Lofton’s body, and the teen’s cause of death has not been determined, Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said at a news conference on Sept. 30. Toxicology results are pending.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said there’s not enough information available to make a determination about possible charges.
On Friday, Sept. 24, Wichita police were called to a Lofton’s foster father’s home at around 1 a.m. Authorities say police found Lofton “behaving erratically” outside and spent time trying to convince him to seek mental health treatment but ultimately took him into custody on suspicion of four counts of battery of a law enforcement officer following a physical struggle.
Police transported Lofton to the center in a WRAP restraint, which is intended to keep subjects from hurting themselves or others, at around 2:30.
At the center, the WRAP was removed and Lofton was placed in a holding cell. Lofton allegedly assaulted a staff member after he was let out of his cell to use the bathroom.
Then a “lengthy physical struggle” ensued between Lofton and several staff members “to get him into the holding cell and place him into handcuffs,” the KBI said in a report, adding that when “Lofton was under control, corrections staff were monitoring him and noticed he became unresponsive.” Police reportedly were called back to the facility before staff realized the teen was unconscious.
Emergency services arrived and transported Lofton to the Wesley Medical Center, where he died two days later without regaining consciousness. The center is allowed to use mechanical restraints to prevent a subject from injuring themselves or others.
Easter said there is footage from the encounter at the juvenile center, but it won’t be released to the public while the case is under investigation.
“Again, I want to reiterate, that this is a complete and thorough investigation that will be taking place. It is an independent investigation. It is a very tragic incident. We’re involved and we will leave no rock unturned. And we will find out exactly what happened. We ask that the citizens and a lot of the folks that are posting stuff on social media to remain patient while the investigation progresses,” said Easter.
Lofton was placed in the custody of the Kansas Department for Children and Families in 2019 and later placed with foster parents because of minor drug offenses and other petty crimes, the sheriff said last week. A GoFundMe page for Lofton’s family has raised nearly $2,000.
The Wichita BNAACP said in a statement about the case: “We demand a transparent investigation of this matter immediately, including a thorough external investigation, an autopsy to determine precise cause of death, and a toxicology report by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.”
If charges are filed, footage will be released during the preliminary hearing. The KBI said there were potentially five staff members involved in the restraint and none is on administrative leave.