Teen Who Died After Handcuffed at Juvenile Facility Allegedly Hit Staff, Put in Restraint

A teenager who died after being handcuffed at a Kansas juvenile facility allegedly hit staffers and was put in a restraint device, authorities said, according to the Associated Press.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) released details of the events prior to the in-custody death of Cedric "CJ" Lofton, 17, in a news release late Tuesday.

Lofton allegedly engaged multiple corrections staffers in "a lengthy physical struggle" at the juvenile facility, the KBI said. They were trying to get him back into the holding cell and place him in handcuffs after he had been let out to use the restroom. Afterward, corrections staffers who were monitoring him noticed he was unresponsive, and he was taken to a hospital, where he died Sunday, the AP said.

"Something was clearly done incorrectly because the claim that he was just suddenly fine and then all of a sudden went unresponsive and then passed away two days later—that just doesn't happen," said Maurice Evans, the pastor of Pure Heart Worship Center. "There are some extenuating circumstances here that they are not yet sharing. We will get to the bottom of it."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Teen Dies After Being Handcuffed
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has released details about the death of a 17-year-old who died in a hospital after being restrained. The teen allegedly hit corrections staff at a state juvenile facility. Getty Images

An autopsy has been conducted, the KBI said, and a cause of death is pending further investigation and toxicology results.

The Black teenager's encounter with law enforcement authorities began at about 1 a.m. last Friday when officers from the Wichita Police Department responded to a disturbance call and found Lofton outside a house. The teen appeared paranoid and was behaving erratically, the KBI said. Officers tried to convince him to voluntarily seek mental health treatment before trying to take him into custody. He resisted by assaulting the officers, according to the release.

After a physical struggle, he was arrested on suspicion of battery of a law enforcement officer. A police report from that incident indicates all three police officers involved were white men.

Lofton was taken to the Sedgwick County juvenile intake and assessment center in a WRAP restraint system, a device described by the sheriff's office as a way to restrain a person who's "out of control" so they don't hurt themselves or others. The device is comprised of a locking shoulder harness, leg restraints and ankle straps.

Once he was at the facility, that device and handcuffs were removed and he was placed in a single holding cell, authorities said.

"When we left the facility, the individual was upright and communicating," said police spokesman Charley Davidson.

Lofton was later allowed out of the holding cell to use the restroom. When a staff member at the juvenile center tried to escort him back to the holding cell, Lofton assaulted the staff member, according to the KBI news release.

Once Lofton was under control, corrections staff monitoring him noticed he was unresponsive.

Life-saving measures were initiated, the KBI said. Emergency medical responders transported him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 1:55 a.m. Sunday.

A youth justice organization, Progeny, has called for "a transparent and thorough investigation."

"This is a tragic example of the immense harm caused when young people are placed behind bars, and much worse, restrained like animals under the supervision of adults who are supposed to keep them safe," the group said in a written statement. "These facilities are devastating our community. They need to be stopped."

Evans called the WRAP restraint "a torture device" that restricts a person's comfort, breathing and circulation. He said authorities don't know if Lofton's injuries came from the police officers' use of the WRAP or from the later altercation at the intake center.

Evans has also set up a GoFundMe account for the teen's mother, Dreamacia Harrison.

"The community is preparing to organize around this so this is not something that is just going to go away," Evans said. "We are going to find justice for the mom."