Teen dies after becoming unresponsive while being restrained

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 17-year-old who became unresponsive while being restrained at a Kansas juvenile facility died two days later at a hospital, authorities said.

The teen was taken into custody Friday by Wichita police on suspicion of three counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, said Col. Brian White of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. Police took him to the Sedgwick County juvenile intake assessment center, where he assaulted staff, White said.

The juvenile was restrained and became unresponsive, White said. Emergency medical responders took him to a hospital, where he died on Sunday.

It is unclear whether the restraints played any role in causing the youth to become unresponsive while in custody. That is one of the things the autopsy, the toxicology report and investigators are trying to determine. The youth was Black and the race of the police officers was not immediately available, but there were Black, white and Hispanic staff at the intake center, said Benjamin Blick, spokesman for the Sedgwick County sheriff’s office.

The youth became unresponsive while handcuffed at the center, and he had earlier been restrained by Wichita police with a restraint system known as the WRAP. Police had taken him out of the WRAP when they released him to the juvenile intake center, Blick said

White described the WRAP as essentially a way to restrain someone “who is more out of control and remains out of control” so they don’t harm themselves or others. The company’s website lists several types — from locking shoulder harnesses to leg restraints and ankle straps — and it was not clear which type police used on him.

White said he did not know the exact nature of the incident that led Wichita police to take him into custody.

“The juvenile was acting out, and the people that were watching over this 17-year-old needed assistance and called law enforcement for that help,” White said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is leading the investigation, said there were law enforcement officers present at the juvenile’s arrest, during his transportation to the intake center and while caring for him at the facility. The KBI is still working to identify the officers and their roles, said KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood.

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