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Kansas teen dies after he was restrained at juvenile facility, prompting investigation

Cedric "CJ" Lofton, 17, died on Sunday about two days after he was restrained by corrections staffers at a juvenile detention facility, officials said.

Authorities in Kansas are investigating after a 17-year-old boy died on Sunday, two days after he was restrained by up to five corrections staffers during a physical struggle at a juvenile detention facility.

After allegedly assaulting officers called to investigate a disturbance, Cedric “CJ” Lofton, of Wichita, was taken by police early Friday morning to the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center, according to a statement by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The KBI is leading the probe into the boy’s death.

Once at the juvenile facility, Lofton again was involved in a physical struggle, officials said.

Lofton, the KBI said, asked to use a restroom and was let out of a holding cell. But he then assaulted a staff member while being escorted back to the cell, officials said.

“Multiple corrections staff engaged in a lengthy physical struggle to get him into the holding cell and place him into handcuffs. Once Lofton was under control, corrections staff were monitoring him and noticed he became unresponsive,” according to the KBI statement from Tuesday.

Melissa Underwood, a spokesperson with KBI, said in an email Wednesday that five Sedgwick County Department of Corrections employees "were potentially involved" in his restraint at the juvenile facility. The corrections personnel were not currently on administrative leave, she said.

Lofton's death marked the only time any inmate had died following a restraint or use of force at the detention center for minors, Underwood said.

Life-saving measures were then performed on Lofton, who was then taken to the Wesley Medical Center. He died on Sunday shortly before 2 a.m., officials said.

Wichita police responded at about 1 a.m. on Friday where they encountered the teen outside a home, per the KBI.

“Lofton appeared paranoid and was behaving erratically. After officers spent an extended period of time trying to convince him to voluntarily seek mental health treatment, they attempted to take Lofton into custody,” the KBI said.

“Lofton resisted by assaulting the officers. After a physical struggle, he was arrested for four counts of battery of a law enforcement officer.”

Attempts to reach Lofton's family were unsuccessful, and no one believed to live at the Wichita home where police responded to the disturbance call about Lofton could be reached Wednesday.

Lofton was taken to the juvenile facility in a wrap restraint, a device used to prevent people from hurting themselves or others, the KBI said. The wrap restraint was taken off of him at the juvenile facility, according to the KBI.

The KBI did not specify in its statement how much time passed between when Wichita officers encountered him on Friday and when the boy struggled with corrections employees at the juvenile facility.

An autopsy was performed on Lofton on Monday. His cause and manner of death were pending further investigation and toxicology results Wednesday, Underwood said.

The KBI said law mandates it investigates in-custody deaths in jails and prisons unless the inmate who died is being regularly monitored by a doctor, or the death is ruled natural following an autopsy.

Col. Brian White of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, said in a news conference on Monday whether the wrap restraint played any role in causing Lofton to become unresponsive while in custody is something medical officials are trying to determine through an autopsy and toxicology assessment.

The people watching over Lofton called police for help because he was “acting out,” White said.

Lofton is Black. There were Black, white and Hispanic staff at the juvenile facility, said Lt. Benjamin Blick, spokesman for the county sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office is assisting the KBI, White said. Once the investigation is completed, “A presentation to the district attorney’s office would take place,” he said.