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After months of waiting, the family of a Black 17-year-old who died at a Witchita, Kansas, juvenile center has their answers.
According to an autopsy report released Monday, Cedric “CJ” Lofton’s death has been ruled a homicide. His heart and breathing stopped after he was handcuffed while lying on his stomach.
The new report contradicts the initial one, where it was reported that the teen had not suffered any life-threatening injuries. Lofton was of slight build, weighing just 135 pounds.
“Does this count as a conspiracy? Does this count as a coverup? I don’t know,” the spokesperson for Lofton’s family, who goes by “Pastor Moe,’ told KWCH-12 in Kansas, referring to a video showing the altercation with the teen and staff. “What does the law say when the people who are supposed to be investigating a wrongdoing are the people doing the wrong thing?”
Lofton was suffering from a mental health crisis the night he was taken to Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Witchita on Sept. 24. He died two days later, on Sept. 26.
While at the juvenile center, Loften got into a physical struggle with staff members—who remain unnamed—but according to ABC News, have been placed on administrative leave.
“They should have been suspended immediately without pay. They should not be getting paid right now,” Pastor Moe told KWCH. “Criminal charges should be filed.”
#BREAKING: The family of Cedric “CJ” Lofton released one of the last photos taken of the seventeen-year-old in the hospital before his death. The teen died in custody, and now the autopsy report officially rules Cedric’s death as a HOMICIDE. pic.twitter.com/YIhivV9vjb
— Caroline Elliott (@KWCHCaroline) December 28, 2021
The autopsy reports that Lofton ran away from his foster home on Sept. 21, then was “erratic and aggressive” toward his foster parents when he returned early Sept. 24. The family then called Wichita police, who found Lofton outside and attempted to get him to seek mental health treatment. He resisted police, assaulted one of the officers, and was then taken to the juvenile center and placed in a cell at 2:45 a.m.
At 4:20 a.m., he was allowed to leave the cell to use the restroom, but according to the center’s records, he became “uncooperative and agitated,” punched a staff member in the head, and a struggle with staff ensued.
The autopsy report says that after Lofton’s altercation with staff, his ankles were shackled and he was “moved to the floor” and then rolled onto his stomach. Loften reportedly “calmed down, making occasional snoring sounds.” But after four minutes, staff were unable to find a pulse. They began chest compressions while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.
Lofton was taken to a local hospital where his treatment was complicated by a brain injury, caused by a lack of oxygen, as well as respiratory failure and “acute kidney injury.” He also tested positive for COVID-19.
Attorney’s representing the teen’s family, Andrew Stroth and Steven Hart, are rightfully calling for criminal charges.
Stroth’s firm represents families of people who’ve been injured or killed at the hands of police.
“Between the video evidence that we reviewed and the autopsy, it’s clear that this young man was unjustifiably killed,” Stroth told ABC News.
Lofton’s family attorney released a statement in response to the official autopsy report. The statement is as follows:
“This confirms our belief that Sedgwick County personnel at the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC) in Wichita killed Cedric.. As supported by the video evidence, these individuals unjustifiably and with excessive and unreasonable force pinned Cedric to the ground, ultimately killing the unarmed, 135-pound, 17-year-old African American teenager. Cedric’s family anxiously awaits the findings of the criminal investigation and believes the Sedgwick County District Attorney should pursue criminal charges against the law enforcement personnel responsible for Cedric’s death. Cedric’s death was caused by the hands of the very authorities that were obligated to protect him and make sure he was safe. Instead, they killed him with conscious disregard for the young life in their keeping.”
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the autopsy report and investigations by the KBI and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office continue. The DA’s office will determine if any charges need to be filed.
This content was originally published here.