State Refuses Requests for Updates and Video Related to Death of Gynnya McMillen

Posted March 7, 2016

Updated March 16, 2016 to include audio

Teen may have been dead for hours in Kentucky detention center
By Patrice K. Muhammad, Editor

Bob Hayter, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice was fired after he did not disclose that the employee who failed to check on Gynnya had a history of disciplinary issues.

Bob Hayter, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice was fired after he did not disclose that the employee who failed to check on Gynnya had a history of disciplinary issues.

     Nearly two months have passed since the tragic death of Gynnya McMillen. McMillen, just 16 years old, was found unresponsive and “cold’’ January 11 at a juvenile detention center, where she had been placed in isolation.

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley said he has ordered an internal review and a state police investigation. Tilley claims both would be expedited but so far nothing has been released. For six weeks media inquiries to the Cabinet have been met with the same statement that promises answers “soon’’.

Before being bombarded with calls from local and national media outlets, which resulted in the office shutting down communication, they gave information regarding Gynnya’s intake process in the early hours of January 10 and details about how she did not respond to food offered on the morning of January 11.

However, there are 24 hours missing from the story presented by jail officials.

The family and media have been forced to piece together information about the incidents leading up to Gynnya’s death.

Timeline of events based on available information:
January 10 – Around 1:35 a.m.
Gynnya’s mother Michelle McMillen calls 911. In the audio recording Michelle is heard cursing and yelling at Gynnya and does not immediately respond to the 911 operator who announces herself three times before Michelle pauses.
In the audio, which we have made available on the papers website, Michelle claims that Gynnya is “on her pad and acting a g**damn fool.’’ Michelle says, “She thought she was gonna whoop me.’’ Gynnya can be heard pleading “No I didn’t’’ over and over in the background.

Michelle then tells someone that they can “get up off of her’’ and go have a cigarette now. She is heard saying that this person has held Gynnya down for 5-10 minutes. Michelle tells the 911 operator that it was her male friend.

The 911 operator asks the mother for her name three times before she pauses then says, “She’s already gone, she’s already out the door.’’ But the operator asks a fourth time and she says soberly, Michelle McMillen and gives her daughter’s name as Gynnya.

When asked, Michelle says her daughter is wearing hot pink jacket and jeans.

Below is the actual 9-1-1 call.

***Warning – Explicit Language***

January 10 – 1:55 a.m.
According to Major Kovacs with the Shelbyville police department, three officers arrived at Michelle McMillens apartment. Kovac says that since a juvenile was involved, he can only describe the events involving “a juvenile’’.

A juvenile, matching Michelle’s description of her daughter was found in the parking lot of the apartment complex. A court designated worker was called and that worker determined that a judge also needed to be involved. Kovacs could not confirm the charges placed on the juvenile, but did say that one officer transported a juvenile that morning to Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, KY more than 60 miles away.

January 10 – Around 6:30 a.m.
Gynnya arrives at Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, KY.

It was reported and confirmed that a staff member put Gynnya into a martial arts hold because she would not remove her sweatshirt to be photographed. A Kentucky Dept. of Juvenile Justice release states, “The youth repeatedly refused and was non-compliant with the staff request’’ as justification for the maneuver and her placement in isolation.

It was later reported that Gynnya was in a sleeping position each time she was observed. However, the officer who made that report has since been fired for not making the necessary bed checks and lying about doing so.

The has been no verifiable information presented, as of yet, about Gynnya’s activity after the martial arts maneuver.
January 11
5:45 a.m. Gynnya didn’t respond to the wake-up call
6:30 a.m. She does not respond to breakfast
8:30 a.m. No response to breakfast snack or when told there was a phone call for her
10:00 a.m. She was found dead when a Shelby County officer came to take her to court.

     A disturbing 911 recording reveals that CPR was only attempted by staff 10 long minutes into the call after being prompted by the 911 operator. Again, without video footage there is no way to know how long before the 911 call was made after her cell was opened.

January 29
Michelle McMillen contacts personal injury attorney Ron Hillerich. Hillerich said they are awaiting all reports to determine if legal action is warranted.

January 31
A vigil is held outside the detention center by mourners and activists demanding answers and video footage of Gynnya’s time in the detention center.

February 9
Bob Hayter, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice was fired after it was discovered that employee Reginal Windham, who was suspended as a result of the investigation, had a history of disciplinary issues, according to Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

Windham, a supervisor, was placed on special investigative leave for failing to check on Gynnya every 15 minutes, as required at the center for juveniles who are isolated. Windham also falsified reports, claiming to have made the checks and was later fired.

“Before news accounts late Friday, the Justice Cabinet was not made aware that the employee’s work record included previous disciplinary actions,” Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Lisa Lamb reportedly said in an emailed statement to CBS news. “While these disciplinary actions were not connected to the death, they reveal a pattern of unacceptable behavior for someone who supervises youth.”


     As of this printing, Gov. Matt Bevin’s office did not respond to a request for comment. All representatives for Secretary Tilley have refused to provide further information until their investigation is complete. Attorney Hillerich, did not respond to requests for an interview with Michelle McMillen.

The Key Newsjournal will continue to follow this story.