Death of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen in cell in Kentucky raises serious questions for police
Gynnya McMillen died under mysterious circumstances while in police custody in Elizabethtown, Ky.
By Sean King
Something’s not right.
Earlier this month, Gynnya McMillen, a 16-year-old girl described by others as a “quiet, beautiful person” was found unresponsive in a juvenile detention center cell in Elizabeth-town, Ky., about 45 minutes south of Louisville.
As the demand for answers grows louder, the deafening silence from the Lincoln Valley Regional Juvenile Detention Center rings hollow. The local coroner has stated it will likely be weeks before an autopsy is released, but that McMillen did not appear to have any visual bruising and that it was doubtful that she had any heart ailments.
Color me skeptical.
According to Stacy Floden, a spokeswoman for Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, the last young person to die at such a facility in Kentucky was all the way back in 1999.
Several aspects of this story raise my suspicion.
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Who determined McMillen was dead? Jailers? Was an ambulance dispatched? Why was she not rushed to the nearest hospital?
Speaking anonymously to the Daily News, a former employee of the juvenile justice center stated that McMillen had just entered the facility less than 24 hours before she died. A local police spokesperson confirmed this. The former employee stated that if McMillen died in a holding cell, some-thing would be seriously wrong. Holding cells all have cameras and the children being held in them, according to the former employee, are supposed to be looked at in 15-minute increments to guarantee their well-being. Furthermore, it is not normal for children to be held in holding cells overnight.
Lastly, if McMillen was being checked on every 15 minutes, it’s highly unlikely she went from being alive and well to being so dead she didn’t need to go to the hospital in that short period of time.
To be frank, we are all justified in being skeptical about the circumstances of in-custody deaths. If any type of foul play or negligence led to the death of McMillen, it is highly doubtful that those who were negligent or even criminal in their actions are going to voluntarily be forthcoming about it. An enormous amount of trust, over the years, has been given to law enforcement, such that the practice of believing their first version of events became rather standard.
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The past two years, though, have brought a renewed scrutiny to law enforcement and we’ve found that the first version of events that they give often does not match up with the recorded reality of what happened.
The officer who arrested Sandra Bland was recently indicted for lying under oath about his arrest of her.
The University of Cincinnati officer who shot and killed Sam Dubose lied and said Dubose tried to run over him.
Officer Michael Slaeger lied to his superiors about why he killed Walter Scott before a video was released of it.
If any of us expect a law enforcement officer to come out and admit their own wrongdoing, we’re fooling ourselves.
This case is no different.