IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Kansas governor orders investigation into death of Black teen restrained at juvenile center

"This situation is tragic, and we must find a way to ensure something like this never happens again," Gov. Laura Kelly said.

The governor of Kansas ordered an investigation into a private foster care agency following the death of Cedric Lofton, 17, a Black foster child who became unresponsive as he was being restrained facedown for more than 30 minutes at a juvenile center in Wichita.

"This situation is tragic, and we must find a way to ensure something like this never happens again," Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement to NBC affiliate KSN of Wichita. "I've also directed the Department for Children and Families to thoroughly investigate this case to ensure policy and procedures were properly followed, and to determine if these processes need to be changed or refined."

Image: Cedric Lofton
Cedric Lofton.Action Injury Law Group, LLC

Lofton was a foster child at the foster care agency, DCCCA, according to a report by Sedgewick County District Attorney Marc Bennett.

DCCCA contracts with the Department for Children and Families, The Wichita Eagle reported.

DCCCA and the Department for Children and Families did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Lofton was taken to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center on Sept. 24 after police responded to a disturbance at a home around 1 a.m., officials said.

Lofton was described as being "paranoid," and he was "behaving erratically," the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said.

A previously released bodycam video shows officers speaking to Lofton for about an hour. At one point in the video, they tell him that they are "worried" about him because of his behavior and try to persuade him to go to a hospital voluntarily.

A struggle ensues, the video shows, and Lofton is put into a "wrap" restraint, which is used to hold down a person's legs and torso, officials have said. Lofton was taken to the juvenile center and seated upright on the floor in a holding room. The officers removed all the restraints before they left the room, the bodycam video shows.

Officers were called back to the center about an hour after they left. Staff members were already performing CPR on Lofton by the time officers arrived, the video shows. EMS workers arrived at the center later and took over.

Other video released by Sedgwick County shows Lofton appearing to pace around a lobby before a struggle ensues between him and two other people. The video includes no audio; workers at the facility are not equipped with body cameras.

Bennett, the district attorney, said in his report that Lofton was alleged to have became combative in the lobby and struck a staff member in the face. Staff members were able to get Lofton into a holding room, where he was restrained on the floor, according to the report.

In interviews with investigators, staff members alleged that Lofton was mumbling during the struggle and did not say he could not breathe, the report says.

"According to the employees, Cedric finally relaxed — which allowed the handcuffs to be applied," the report says. "At or about that time, the employees said Cedric began to 'snore.'"

Shortly afterward, staff members noticed that Lofton was not breathing, and they could not find a pulse, according to the report. CPR was performed, but he died.

A coroner ruled the death a homicide, listing the cause as "complications of cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle while restrained in the prone position."

His family has demanded charges, but the district attorney has said no charges would be filed because of the state's "stand your ground law" and because staff members were defending themselves.

Bennett wrote in his report that there was no evidence that staff members put their full weight on Lofton, who he said resisted during the struggle. Bennett also wrote that there was "no evidence that the workers discerned anything from Cedric, physically or verbally to indicate Cedric was in physical distress."