The FBI is reviewing the death of a Black teenager in foster care who died in custody last fall while being restrained in a prone position for at least half an hour at a juvenile intake center in Kansas, according to news reports.
The federal review of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton’s death was released late last week at a public meeting to discuss a community task force’s recommendations regarding the case and its implications for changes in the juvenile justice system. Lofton was at the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center after being arrested Sept. 24 on suspicion of battery of an officer.
During last week’s meeting, Sedgwick County Commission Chair David Dennis said that the FBI had informed the sheriff that agents were looking into any possible violations of Lofton’s civil rights.
The FBI requested all available information from the county the week after Lofton died, Dennis said. An FBI spokesperson later told reporters the bureau was aware of the case and confirmed it had been in touch with local law enforcement about it.
On Jan. 18, county District Attorney Marc Bennett announced that he was not filing state charges, saying Kansas’ “stand your ground” law precluded him from doing so because the employees involved claimed their actions were in self-defense when Lofton was fatally injured.
That incident occurred last September when Lofton was walking back from a restroom break at the county juvenile intake facility and he allegedly hit a worker in the head. In the ensuing scuffle, he was put in restraints and held face-down on the floor for more than 30 minutes, according to the Associated Press. Staff noticed Lofton had no pulse and sent him to a hospital, but he died two days later.
On Monday, the community task force decided to add six members, growing from 15 to 21 people, and focused its meeting on questions for the Department for Children and Families. Next week, the task force will fine-tune a letter that will be sent to the Department of Justice.