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Girl, 16, was put in a martial arts restraint 'because she refused to take off her hoodie' hours before she died in police custody

Gynnya McMillen put in a martial arts restraint dies in Kentucky police custody

  • Gynnya McMillen, 16, died in a juvenile detention center in Kentucky 
  • She was put in an Aikido martial arts restraint after refusing to take off her hoodie so a mugshot could be taken, authorities said
  • The next morning Gynnya died in a 'sleeping position' in her bed
  • Custody staff did not question why she was not responding in the hours before she was found dead despite entering her room three times 
  • Police have ruled out foul play and a coroner is awaiting toxicology results 

A 16-year-old girl died in police custody hours after officers put her in a martial arts-style restraint.

Investigators said several officers put Gynnya McMillen in an Aikido stress position after she refused to take off her hoodie so a mugshot could be taken.

The next morning she was found dead in her cell, but only hours after officers first noticed she was unresponsive.

Gynnya McMillen, 16, was put in an Aikido martial arts restraint before she died in police custody

Gynnya McMillen, 16, was put in an Aikido martial arts restraint before she died in police custody

Gynnya was put in the restraint 'by multiple staff to ensure the safety of the youth and staff', officials said

Gynnya was put in the restraint 'by multiple staff to ensure the safety of the youth and staff', officials said

Gynnya was arrested on January 10 after allegedly assaulting her mother in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

She was taken to Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center but refused to take off her sweater so she could be searched and photographed, Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) spokeswoman Stacy Floden said.

'The youth’s repeated refusal to cooperate with staff and remove her outer garment prompted the restraint,' Ms Floden told the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Gynnya was then put in the restraint 'by multiple staff to ensure the safety of the youth and staff', Ms Floden said.

The DJJ refused to say whether the 16-year-old was in pain while she was being held, but said that was under investigation.

On January 11, Gynnya was found dead in a 'sleeping position', authorities said.

Authorities refused to say whether the 16-year-old was in pain while she was being held, but said that was being investigated

Authorities refused to say whether the 16-year-old was in pain while she was being held, but said that was being investigated

Detention center staff failed to try to rouse Gynnya after she did not respond to them on three occasions in the hours before she was found dead

Detention center staff failed to try to rouse Gynnya after she did not respond to them on three occasions in the hours before she was found dead

Coroner William Lee said a surveillance video from inside her cell showed her last moving at midnight and estimated that she died at around 7am, WDRB reported.

Detention center staff offered her breakfast at 6.30am but did not try to wake her when she did not respond, Ms Floden said.

The teenager was asked whether she wanted to take a phone call at 8.17am but again did not respond and staff did not try to rouse her.

She was offered food again at 8.53am but did not reply, the DJJ spokeswoman said.  

Authorities only discovered that she was not breathing shortly before 10am when staff needed her to get ready to appear in court.

They attempted to revive her but she was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. 

Each of the three times she was asked questions, staff entered her room. Juvenile detainees are supposed to be checked on visually every 15 minutes.

The employee who did not check on Gynnya has been placed on leave with pay while an investigation takes place.   

The coroner said Gynnya had no obvious signs of injury and he is awaiting toxicology results.

Police do not suspect foul play, but the girl's family have questioned detention center staff's accounts of how she died.

'We deserve to know what happened to her! And if there's nothing to hide, there's no reason why our questions should be unanswered,' a loved one wrote on a Facebook page created in Gynnya's honor.

Police do not suspect foul play, but Gynnya's family have questioned detention center staff's accounts of how she died

Police do not suspect foul play, but Gynnya's family have questioned detention center staff's accounts of how she died

Gynnya was arguing with her mother the day before she died and was arrested for allegedly assaulting her

Gynnya was arguing with her mother the day before she died and was arrested for allegedly assaulting her

Gynnya’s uncle, Ronald Caldwell, told WDRB his niece had been arguing with her mother before the arrest and had been living in care since she was 14 years old. She had been visiting her mom for the weekend.

Mr Caldwell said: 'We're still very hurt and upset and confused about it. Because you have no closure although she's buried now you want to know what happened to her, what caused all of this, so we're still torn apart about this.

'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.'

A full statement from the DJJ said: 'There was an Aikido restraint performed on a youth at the Lincoln Village Reginal Juvenile Detention Center on January 10, 2016. 

'The youth was instructed to remove the youth’s outer garment hoodie which was covering the youth’s head and neck area in order to be searched and photographed as part of the booking process. 

'The youth repeatedly refused and was non-compliant with the staff request. 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. 

'A female staff conducted the pat-down search and removed the youth’s hoodie that was covering her head and neck area. 

'The youth’s repeated refusal to cooperate with staff and remove her outer garment prompted the restraint.'


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Comment by Reez on February 9, 2016 at 12:16pm

Reminds me of my little sister same age and all. Damn that's a shame.

Comment by Carlos Louhisdon on February 3, 2016 at 4:36pm

Nothing good comes out of trying to fight a cop no matter if you served that one or many officers you will eventually lose the battle.  Like my dad use to tell me, you can win the fight but you will never win the war in any fight because there will always be another to replace the one you beat.  

Comment by Carlos Louhisdon on February 3, 2016 at 4:30pm

I don't know what accuried between the police and this youngster or any other youngster that died in the hands of a police officer, but one thing I can say is that I rather have a live child in prison than a dead one in the morgue. With that being said I have thought my children do not argue with a cop nor even resist them putting you in handcuffs although you don't agree with their reason or reasoning.  Parents should teach their children the same to keep them alive and parents should also teach their children by not arguing with a cop infant of the officer, it's called lead by example although it's had for some. 

Comment by BLKBANGER on February 2, 2016 at 10:23pm
They did kill that girl wow this is to much!
Comment by Jahbass on February 2, 2016 at 7:31am
Black people must take care of their children so this dosen't happen they have no fear of killing our children as they will always get away with it please don't let your children end up in these institutions neither their schools or their military..
Comment by mssusieqno1 on February 1, 2016 at 10:19pm
So.young and pretty. Reminds me.of.my daughter. Senseless death. May she rest.in peace!
Comment by John on January 31, 2016 at 10:58pm
They're murdered and they're trying to cover up. They did something to her that causes her death. People don't dy like that
Comment by Tony Smith on January 31, 2016 at 10:41pm
They murdered her
Comment by GospelPan on January 31, 2016 at 9:20pm

What do you mean, police do not suspect foul play? Of course not, she died in your custody! How many young people have to die in police custody before folks realize something is wrong...a sixteen year old dies mysteriously in police custody...sigh...it's a pattern now...may she rest in peace.

Comment by autry chambliss on January 31, 2016 at 8:09pm

omg-- not another one

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