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Joint task force reviewing teen’s death to send letter to DOJ requesting investigation

Kylie Cameron
LaShonda Garnes facilitates part of the joint task force's meeting Thursday, Feb. 3.

A member of the task force said the Department of Justice would have access to records that they would not have.

Members of a joint task force reviewing the death of a 17-year-old who died at a juvenile facility last year plan to ask the Department of Justice for an investigation.

The task force was created to recommend policy changes after the death of Cedric Lofton. He died at Sedgwick County’s juvenile facility in September while experiencing a mental health crisis.

The task force met for the first time Thursday to discuss how it wants to structure its meetings and what it wants to accomplish.

Lamont Anderson with the Community Operations Recovery Empowerment (CORE) suggested the letter during the meeting. He said that an investigation by the DOJ would allow that department access to records that the task force does not have.

Another member of the task force, Jazmine Rogers with Progeny, agreed with Anderson.

“I think if we make our policy recommendations but there’s no criminal charges for those responsible, it means that this could still happen again,” Rogers said. “And so I think sending a letter to the DOJ to encourage them to bring forth whatever charges are open to a new investigation would be very important to getting justice for CJ specifically.”

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett declined to press criminal charges last month after an investigation into Lofton’s death.

Another community group, the Community Empowerment and Resilience Coalition, has also sent a letter to the DOJ requesting an investigation.

The task force will now meet every Monday for the next three months.

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.