Amid investigation, family pushing for policy review after teen's death at Ky. detention center
A Kentucky state employee is on leave after a teen dies at a detention center in Hardin County. The family of Gynnya McMillen, 16, says she died in state custody more than two weeks ago, and they're still not getting any answers from investigators.
HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky state employee is on leave after a teen died at a detention center in Hardin County Jan. 11.
The family of Gynnya McMillen, 16, says she died in state custody and they're still not getting any answers from investigators.
"It was a shock to me that it happened the way it did, I mean nobody can tell you nothing," said Gynnya’s uncle Ronald Caldwell.
Caldwell still has no idea why his niece died while in state custody.
"Gynnya was always pretty healthy and active," said Caldwell.
Caldwell says his niece had issues at school and with her mother and had been in group homes since she was 14, but that she was like many teens.
"She was real active, you know, real energetic, smart as a whip she really was. Very intelligent girl, but she had a little wildness in her like all teens," said Caldwell.
On Jan. 10 during a weekend visit home, Caldwell says the teen got into an argument with her mom, who called police.
Gynnya ended up at the Lincoln Village Regional Detention Center in Hardin County. The next morning, she was found dead.
"We're still very hurt and upset and confused about it,” said Caldwell, “because you have no closure although she's buried now you wanna know what happened to her, what caused all of this, so we're still torn apart about this."
Kentucky State Police are investigating Gynnya's death. The Justice Cabinet has not confirmed the teen's name but in a statement to WDRB says:
Investigations into the tragic death of the youth on Jan. 11 at Lincoln Village Regional Detention Center in Hardin County are ongoing. The Kentucky State Police is in charge of the death investigation and the Justice Cabinet’s Internal Investigations Branch is also investigating.
The Department of Juvenile Justice is reviewing video and personnel conduct to ensure policies and procedures were followed. The youth was under constant supervision through video surveillance of her room throughout the night and morning hours of January 11. The video footage of the youth's room was under continuous monitoring by staff in the control room. Additionally, the youth had direct visual monitoring by staff at various intervals throughout the night and morning hours where staff looked in her room to see that she was sleeping and in no apparent distress.
As a result of DJJ’s internal review the agency discovered that an employee failed to make all of the 15-minute visual bed checks required by policy and this employee has been placed on special investigative leave with pay. Any further disciplinary action will depend on the outcome of internal reviews or the findings of any of the external investigations.
Family members hope procedures are reviewed so policies are followed in the future. Gynnya's uncle still has a lot of questions.
"Did something happen along the way there? Did something happen between her and her mother? I don't know, we just want some answers," said Caldwell.
State officials say they're still waiting to find out how Gynnya died.
KSP says it hopes to have the toxicology results in the next couple of weeks.
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