No Charges Filed In Custody Death Of Cedric Lofton

Crime
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Damir Mujezinovic

In September last year, 17-year-old Cedric Lofton was arrested in Wichita, Kansas after "exhibiting erratic and aggressive behavior" toward his foster family.

After arresting Lofton, the police took him to a county juvenile center. However, the teen refused to follow the orders of correctional staff and fought with them.

Staff then placed shackles on Lofton's ankles, handcuffed his wrists behind his back, and rolled him onto his abdomen. The teen calmed down after this, and made "snoring sounds," according to an autopsy report from the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center.

No Criminal Charges

A few minutes after handcuffing Lofton, staff members checked for his pulse -- they could not find one. The teenager was pronounced dead two days later.

But Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett announced this week that no criminal charges will be filed in this case, as reported by The New York Times.

The decision shocked the entire community, especially Lofton's biological family, which has vowed to pursue legal action.

But how did Bennett explain his decision not to file charges?

Stand Your Ground Law

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Bennet wrote in his report that Kansas' stand your ground law law prevents his office from filing criminal charges over Lofton's death in custody.

The employees of the juvenile detention center Lofton died in, Bennet wrote, "acted in self-defense under Kansas law." The state's law, he argued, makes them "immune from prosecution" in this case.

"This is not a reflection of this office’s approval of what happened to Cedric Lofton on September 24, 2021. This should never have happened," the Sedgwick County district attorney concluded in his report.

Homicide

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Medical examiner Dr. Timothy S. Gorrill ruled Lofton's death a homicide last month.

"In my opinion, Cedric Lofton died as a result of complications of cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle while restrained in the prone position," he wrote.

Nonetheless, according to Bennet, this does not mean criminal charges can be brought.

"Whether or not criminal charges can be brought is a separate, legal determination to be made by the Office of the District Attorney based on the laws of the State of Kansas and the evidence collected by law enforcement," Bennet said.

Family Devastated

Lofton's biological parents and older brother are absolutely devastated, according to lawyer Andrew Stroth who represents them.

According to Stroth, Bennet's arguments are weak being that Lofton was unarmed, weighed just 135 and posed no threat to correctional staff.

"The idea of a stand-your-ground defense or immunity makes absolutely no sense based on the facts in this case," Stroth said.

"Family and the community and stakeholders in the community are going to continue to fight for justice for Cedric. They’re going to continue to fight to make sure people are held accountable for this unjustified killing of an unarmed 17-year-old," he added.

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