FBI reviewing in-custody death of restrained Kansas teenager
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The FBI is reviewing the death of a Black teenager who was restrained for more than 30 minutes at a Kansas juvenile detention center, a county official said Friday.
Sedgwick County Commission Chairman David Dennis said he was told by county Sheriff Jeff Easter that the FBI requested all information regarding the death of 17-year-old Cedric Lofton, The Wichita Eagle reported.
“Sedgwick County provided everything that they asked for and will continue to do that,” Dennis said.
Dennis made his comments at a commission meeting that was called after a community task force recommended Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice be asked to review Lofton’s death. The FBI is part of the Justice Department.
Lofton died two days after being taken to Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Wichita on Sept. 24 after his foster father called authorities seeking help because the teenager was hallucinating.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said last month that the 5-foot-10, 135-pound Lofton assaulted at least one police officer before being taken to the intake center. Lofton walked out of a cell there and struggled with several staff members before he was shackled, put on his stomach and handcuffed, Bennett said.
Staff members eventually realized Lofton had no pulse. They attempted chest compressions and called for emergency personnel to take him to a hospital, where he died two days later.
An autopsy ruled that Lofton’s death was a homicide.
Bennett has said the county employees involved in Lofton’s death could not be prosecuted under Kansas’ self-defense laws because they were protecting themselves. That decision has prompted some state lawmakers to consider revising the law.
County Counselor Mike Pepoon said Friday the federal investigation would not involve any discussion of the state law Bennett cited.
“The FBI and the DOJ could look into civil rights criminal violations, hate crimes, that sort of thing, like they’ve done in other cases,” Pepoon said. “They will not be looking at whether or not anybody violated any of the statues that Marc Bennett was looking at.”
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