The detention officers used what is referred to as an Aikido restraint, which could be a number of restraints considering Aikido, like most martial arts, includes various techniques.
Initially, guards said that Gynnya McMillen died in her sleep because she was found in her cell at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, KY on January 11th.
McMillen was sent to the detention center after a domestic disturbance that involved her at her mother’s home on January 10th. McMillen was charged with misdemeanor assault.
When it was time for McMillen to take her booking photo, she was instructed to take her sweatshirt off so she could be properly searched, the girl refused and a struggle ensued.
It was then that one of the guards put McMillen in a Aikido restraint to gain compliance, all while a female guard patted the girl down and removed the sweatshirt.
Stacy Floden, who is the spokeswoman for the detention center released the following statement, saying they were only looking out for her safety:
“The staff performed an Aikido restraint hold to safely conduct a pat-down search and remove the youth’s hoodie. The purpose of having multiple staff involved in a controlled restraint is to ensure the safety of the youth and staff. Repeated refusal to cooperate with staff and remove her outer garment prompted the restraint. A female staff member conducted the pat-down and removed the hoodie.”
Upon all of the aforementioned, McMillen was place in an isolated cell because of her behavior. The next morning on January 11th, the young girl was found in her cell dead.
It is all to common for jail/prison guards to fail on checking on inmates in isolation or psychiatric lockup. Guards were suppose to check on McMillen every 15 minutes, which of course they did not do.
Reginald Windham was the guard that was suppose to check on McMillen. Windham was placed on paid administrative leave for not checking on the girl. It is a policy requirement for inmates in isolation at the detention center to be checked every 15 minutes.
Attorney and juvenile justice expert Michele Deitch said:
“Refusal to remove a sweatshirt is not acceptable grounds for restraint. As far as I’m concerned that is a completely inappropriate use of a restraint, This goes back to not being so punitive with kids. That’s not just how you interact if you want to achieve a positive social response.”
In Kentucky, youths in isolation must have video surveillance at all times. That footage has been turned over to investigators, so perhaps we will eventually see exactly which Aikido restraint was used on her.
Hardin County Coroner William Lee, Jr. noted that during the initial autopsy on Jan. 12, he saw no outward signs, such as “visual bruising,” that showed a cause of death. Per the initial autopsy, Lee said there is no indication McMillen had a heart condition. It will take weeks until the full results are available.
PINAC News has reported on countless cases where inmates have died in police custody, here are a few: