The Justice for Cedric Lofton rally took place on Monday

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Several members of the community gathered outside the Sedgwick County Courthouse Monday morning to demand justice for the death of Cedric Lofton.

Last week an autopsy was released which determined Lofton’s death was considered homicide. The report says Lofton’s heart and breathing stopped after he was handcuffed while lying on his stomach. Lofton had been briefly in the custody of the Sedgwick County Juvenile Reception and Assessment Center in Wichita when his altercation with staff members occurred on September 24. He was taken to a local hospital and died two days later.

Cedric Lofton (Courtesy of family counsel)

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett will decide whether to file a complaint. The district attorney says that even though the autopsy was ruled a homicide, it doesn’t necessarily mean the employees committed crimes.

People at the rally on Monday said they had lost confidence in District Attorney Marc Bennett and called for the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor from outside the office. They cited additional statements made by District Attorney and Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter following a press conference following Cedric’s death on September 30, 2021.

“We want accounts for what happened to CJ, and we also want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said LaWanda Deshazer, Kansas NAACP youth advisor.

“The system failed him twice. So St. Francis, an entrepreneur with DCF, they didn’t take that call in a timely manner. They didn’t give him the help he needed from the start. So we have to fix this broken system. This is our number one problem, ”said Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau, District 29.

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Those present also demanded that videos implicating Cédric’s death be made public.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement last week that it plans to complete the examination of Lofton’s death within the next 10 to 15 business days.

On Tuesday, December 28, 2021, attorneys and investigative staff from the District Attorney’s Office met with officers from the Kansas Bureau of Investigations and detectives from the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the investigation into the death of Cedric Lofton. This was the sixth time that members of the district attorney’s office had met investigators from one or both agencies since September. The district attorney is reviewing more than 90 pieces of evidence, including interviews, transcripts, surveillance footage and axon (body camera) videos provided by investigators throughout the investigation.

Contrary to numerous public comments since the publication of the autopsy report prepared by the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, the determination that the mode of death was “homicide” does not reflect a legal determination on the part of the pathologist regarding viability. of the criminal offense. charges. Whether or not criminal charges can be laid is a separate legal decision that must be made by the district attorney’s office based on the laws of the state of Kansas and evidence gathered by the forces of the United States. order.

“A Guide for Medical Examiners” published by the National Association of Medical Examiners, recognizes that there are generally 5 descriptors used in autopsy reports when listing a mode of death: (1) Natural; (2) Accidents; (3) suicide; (4) Homicide; and (5) Undetermined. The term “homicide” reflects a determination that a willful (non-accidental) act was committed by someone other than the deceased and contributed to the death of the deceased. The finding does not reflect a compelling legal finding that the elements of murder or manslaughter are present.

The guide explains,

An assessment of “intent” relates to the classification of the mode of death: it necessarily underlies the quasi-judicial liability flowing from the enabling statute in the relevant jurisdiction of the certifier of death. However, the legal point of view of intention may differ from the point of view of the death investigator. It is sometimes terribly difficult, and sometimes impossible, for an impartial investigator to infer the intention of a victim or “aggressor”. Intention is also much more apparent in some cases than in others. For this reason, the notion of “voluntary acts” or “volition” can be useful. In general, if a person’s death results from the “hands of another” who committed a willful act harmful to the victim, the death may be considered homicide from the perspective of the death investigation. . . Although there was no intention to kill the victim, the victim died as a result of the harmful, intentional and willful act of another person. Thus, the mode of death can be qualified as homicide because of the intentional or voluntary act, and not because there was an intention to kill.

The guide further recognizes,

Deaths due to law enforcement-induced restraint or strangulation or other control measures can be classified as homicide. In such cases, there may be no intention to kill, but death results from one or more intentional, willful and potentially harmful acts directed against the deceased person (without their consent, of course). In addition, the classification of homicides has some value in reducing public perception that a “cover-up” is being carried out by the death investigation agency.

While the identification of a cause of death set out in the autopsy report is a necessary step in the investigative process, the legal determination of the viability of criminal charges requires a separate legal review. This work is ongoing.

In the absence of unforeseen circumstances, the district attorney’s office plans to complete the examination within the next 10 to 15 working days. The public will be notified at that time.

MARC BENNETT, DISTRICT LAWYER

Elna M. Lemons