District attorney: Juvenile center staff who killed Black teen are protected by 'stand your ground' law

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett announced that there will be no charges filed in the death of a Black Kansas teenager who died in police custody, CNN reports.

An autopsy report found that Cedric Lofton, 17, died due to "complications of cardiopulmonary arrest sustained after physical struggle while restrained in the prone position." The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. The teen died after being handcuffed and restrained while lying face-down during a struggle with staff and corrections employees at a juvenile facility.

"The cause of death was brought about by the position in which Cedric was held as well as the ongoing struggle which lasted for over thirty minutes largely unabated," said a report released by Bennett. "The long-lasting struggle while in the face-down position impeded his breathing, which caused the supply of oxygen to his heart to be compromised to the point that his heart stopped."

In a Tuesday news conference, Bennett said that employees involved in restraining the teen acted in self-defense under the "stand your ground" law because the he resisted and struggled with corrections staff -- making them immune from prosecution.

"You cannot be arrested, you cannot be charged, you cannot be prosecuted, if you're acting in self-defense in Kansas under the 'stand your ground' law," Bennett said, adding that Kansas has "one of the most robust 'stand your ground' laws in the United States."

A county spokesperson told CNN that the employees remain on administrative leave and officials "will make a determination on a timeline for returning to work."

In a statement on behalf of the teen's family, civil rights attorneys Andrew M. Stroth and Steven Hart said they were "extremely troubled" by the decision not to prosecute.

"This is yet another instance of an unarmed Black teenager killed by law enforcement with impunity," and without "threat of reprisal or even an ounce of accountability," the statement said. "Similar to the George Floyd case, Cedric's death was caused by authorities obligated to protect him. In this case, they restrained Cedric in the prone position and took his breath away."

Read more at CNN.