Attorney: State workers charged in Gynnya McMillen death because of their race
"We took (to the grand jury) the two people who were the most egregious violators," Hardin Commonwealth’s Attorney Shane Young said.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An attorney for two men charged in connection with the death of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen at a Hardin County juvenile detention center said he believes his clients are being used as scapegoats and facing charges because they are black.
In addition, attorney J. Clark Baird said former supervisors Reginald Wyndham and Victor Holt were following the orders of superiors who told them to falsify logs to "indicate bed checks had been done."
"My clients were simply following the protocol and orders of immediate supervisors who were not charged," Baird said in an interview Wednesday. "They have been thrown under the bus."
But Hardin Commonwealth's Attorney Shane Young said race had nothing to do with the grand jury's decision to indict Wyndham and Holt.
"We took (to the grand jury) the two people who were the most egregious violators," Young said. "I believe the evidence supports that those are the two people who should have been indicted."
Baird filed a motion this week in Hardin County District Court asking prosecutors to turn over video camera footage that he says shows a white Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center supervisor who was assigned to perform regular bed checks on Gynnya.
That supervisor and Wyndham and Holt were on different shifts. responsible for checking on Gynnya during the roughly 24 hours she was in custody.
Wyndham and Holt were fired and charged with official misconduct stemming from what authorities say was their failure to perform regular bed checks and falsifying logs.
WDRB is not identifying the supervisor believed to be in the video because he has not been charged with a crime.
Another employee, Christopher Johnson, was fired on April 15 for failing to perform bed checks and falsifying logs, said Mike Wynn, spokesman for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
A state investigation found that six employees failed to do regular bed checks and falsified departmental logs.
"Lots of people in that facility engaged in the same conduct my clients engaged in, which we believe are not criminal," Baird said in an interview. "Why then were the only two people criminally charged black?"
In court records, Baird has asked prosecutors to turn over a surveillance video that monitored Gynnya’s room, observation sheets, incident reports, employee interviews and statements and any investigations.
Baird also said in court records that Wyndham and Holt, "followed the protocol that was given to them by their immediate supervisor. The same protocol that was used by not only by the defendants, but also every other youth worker, youth worker supervisor, teachers, and even the administrators."
Employees were supposed to check in on Gynnya at required 15-minute intervals, but Baird said the lack of staffing and other duties made that impossible.
It was only after Gynnya’s death that the bed-check practice "comes under examination," Baird said.
"The executive branch told them to do it this way and now they are being charged with a crime," he said.
McMillen was found unresponsive in her cell in January. An autopsy determined that she died in her sleep from a rare heart condition known as sudden cardiac arrhythmia.
Wyndham and Holt could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. They are expected back in court in June.
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