A spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice confirmed Friday that staff used the “Aikido restraint“, a form of martial arts, on a 16-year-old girl found dead in her detention cell on Jan. 11.
Staff at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center used the restraint on Gynnya McMillen a day before, claiming she refused to remove her sweatshirt in order to be searched and photographed for booking, CBS News reports.
In an email released Friday, spokesperson Stacy Floden stated, “the purpose of having multiple staff involved in a controlled restraint is to ensure the safety of the youth and staff.”
From CBS News:
The teen’s “repeated refusal to cooperate with staff and remove her outer garment prompted the restraint,” Floden wrote. A female staff member conducted the pat-down and removed the hoodie, she said.
A day before authorities confirmed the martial arts maneuver was used on the teen, Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center employee Reginald Windham was placed on administrative leave. According to protocol, Windham was required to check on Gynnya — who was isolated in a cell — every 15 minutes. Officials said he failed to do so.
It’s unclear if the Aikido restraint contributed to Gynnya’s death. The Kentucky State Troopers and the Justice Cabinet’s Internal Investigation Branch are still investigating the teen’s death, but it is known that Gynnya was not responsive when offered food at 6:30 a.m. and again at 8:30 a.m. when her mother called the center. Officials confirmed her death at 9:55 a.m.
Recordings released Saturday also reveal responders started CPR on Gynnya 11 minutes after she was found dead. Nine minutes passed between the time a sheriff’s deputy arrived on scene to transport the teen to court and when the first 911 call was made.
From CBS News:
About 1 ½ minutes later, the emergency dispatcher asked a Lincoln Village nurse if CPR was being performed.
“No it’s not,” the nurse said.
“They want us to start CPR,” she can then be heard saying to someone at the facility.
“Do y’all have a CPR protocol or do y’all need it?” the dispatcher asked about 10 seconds later.
“I’m new, I can find out, I don’t know,” the nurse replied.
The fiancé of Gynnya’s brother, Dana McDuffie, told reporters that officials at the center had a “duty to serve and perform.”
“You start CPR. It doesn’t take 11 minutes to assess whether one is breathing or not,” McDuffie said.
Juvenile justice expert Michele Deitch criticized the use of the martial arts move on the 16-year-old.
“I’ve never heard that phrase used in the context of a corrections setting,” Deitch said, adding that in her opinion, 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,” Deitch said. “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.”
The teen was initially brought to the detention center after a domestic incident at her mother’s home. Footage from Gynnya’s cell has been turned over to investigators.