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Video shows struggle that preceded death of Wichita teen at juvenile center

sedgwick_county_juvenile_detention_facility.jpg
KMUW/File Photo
Cedric Lofton died last September while being held at the county's juvenile intake center.

Sedgwick County released 18 video clips late Friday of what happened before Cedric Lofton was rushed to a hospital on Sept. 24 after suffering heart failure.

Surveillance video shows 17-year-old Cedric Lofton struggling with staff at a Wichita juvenile center last fall before he died after he was restrained facedown for more than 30 minutes.

Sedgwick County released 18 video clips late Friday of what happened before Lofton was rushed to a hospital on Sept. 24 after his heart stopped. He died two days later.

The release of the clips followed Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett's announcement Tuesday that the state’s “stand-your-ground” law prevented him from pressing charges because staff members were protecting themselves. He also said he struggled with whether an involuntary manslaughter charge was justified, but concluded it was not.

Sedgwick County’s webpage crashed after the video was posted, making it temporarily inaccessible. But it was back up by late Saturday afternoon. The hours of footage didn't include audio.

One video shows several Wichita Police officers carrying Lofton into the Sedgwick County Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center while he was restrained in something called the WRAP, a device comprised of a locking shoulder harness, leg restraints and ankle straps.

The sheriff’s office describes it as a way to restrain a person who is “out of control” so that they don’t hurt themselves or others.

According to Bennett's report, Lofton had become paranoid and was hallucinating. His foster father said the situation got worse after the teen attended his grandmother's funeral.

At a foster official's urging, the foster father drove Lofton to a mental health provider, but he walked away. When Lofton returned home, foster officials told the foster father to call police.

The WRAP was removed at the juvenile intake center, according to Bennett's report. An unrestrained Lofton walked out of his holding cell and then tried to grab a computer monitor from the intake counter.

The video shows him resisting attempts to place him back in the holding cell. At one point, he can be seen punching one of the juvenile detention employees in the head.

The video shows detention workers wrestling him into the cell and more employees showing up to help. The camera doesn't show a close angle of what is happening inside the cell.

Bennett’s report said staff shackled Lofton’s ankles and put him on his stomach on the floor. Staff noticed he wasn't breathing after they called to arrange for Lofton to be taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Eventually, the video appears to show workers flip Lofton onto his back and start CPR. The staff scramble around before paramedics arrive and load the teen onto a gurney.