Justice for Gynnya McMillan

Posted February 5, 2016

By Patrice K. Muhammad
Photo courtesy Greg Mitchell

Gynnya McMillen

Gynnya McMillen

Greg Mitchell, 37, said that he read of his sisters passing through posts of condolences to her Facebook page. His sister Gynnya McMillen, just 16 years old, was found unresponsive and “cold’’ January 11 at a juvenile detention center, where she had been placed in isolation.

It was reportedly a call from Gynnya’s mother’s Shelbyville home to police that caused the authorities to apprehend the teen and take her to the Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center over a “domestic dispute’’.

Media reports are all Greg, Dana and the rest of the family have to piece together what could have happened that fateful night. Details have trickled in from the State Corrections and Justice Department.
What is known at this point:

• A “martial arts” move was performed on Gynnya in an effort to  remove her hooded sweatshirt.
• The teen was placed in isolation, which is required to have 24-hour video surveillance. That video has not been released.
• Mandatory inmate checks should have been made every 15 minutes, but were not and the officer who failed to do so has been suspended.
• Gynnya did respond to a wakeup call and did not accept either of the two morning meal deliveries. Neither did she respond when told that there was a call from her mother. However, was still not visually inspected.
• Gynnya was found at 9:55 a.m. when a sheriff’s deputy arrived to bring her to court.
• Her body was reportedly cold and CPR was not attempted until prompted by 911 operator 11 minutes later.
• An autopsy has been performed, but officials say that it provides no definitive answers and have not released the document.

For undisclosed reasons, Gynnya was in foster care at Mary Hurst in Louisville, but earned a weekend pass to visit her mother. According Greg, to her paternal brother, Gynnya was placed in foster care at some point after the unexpected death of their father in November 2014, who had full custody of her in his Louisville home.

Greg, who also lives in Louisville, recalled his last visit with Gynnya. She came to see him and his fiancée Dana McDuffie the weekend before she died. “She came over my house, brought me some pictures of her. She said she was getting out of foster care in January, going back to live with her mother in Shelbyville.’’

Dana says the three also discussed Gynnya being adopted by them.
The State Corrections and Justice department will not respond to individual questions and are only communicating via prepared statements to the press.

Several questions were submitted for this article including a request for details of the “martial arts move’’ and if Gynnya was taken to the ground and the number of detention workers involved in her restraint. No response was given by the Department.

A petition was started by Greg in an effort to have the unedited video surveillance tapes released. He said the video and autopsy are what will bring the family closer to closure. “I just want to know what happened. She was a sweet caring 16-year-old who loved getting her hair and nails done who always smiled and was fun to be around.’’

There are reports that Gynnya’s mother has hired an attorney to look into the death of her daughter.
Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley said the internal review he ordered could lead to changes in state juvenile detention policies.

Tilley has also announced that he ordered a state police investigation and that it would to be expedited.
“When the investigations are complete, [we are] going to be as forthcoming about those as is possible, without breaking confidentiality statutes,” said Lisa Lamb, spokesperson. Officials will speak first with the family and then release information to the public.

In the petition, Greg writes “No child’s life should ever end after entering a detention center. No family should have to go this long without knowing what happened to their loved one. Please stand with me, the rest of Gynnya’s family and the Kentucky community in calling for justice.’’