Juvenile justice commissioner relieved of duties amid probe

AP News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2016 3:06 PM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's juvenile justice commissioner was relieved of his duties amid an investigation into a teenager's death at a detention center, which reportedly occurred hours after she was restrained through a martial arts hold.

The administrative shakeup announced Tuesday also involved the dismissal of an unidentified employee who failed to carry out required bed checks on the youth, the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet said Tuesday.

State investigations into 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen's death are nearing completion, the cabinet said.

"Results will first be shared with the youth's family, and information will be released to the public to the fullest extent allowed by law," it said.

Attorney Ron Hillerich, who is representing the teenager's estate and her mother, said he hopes the state turns over all its investigative files so the teenager's family can find out exactly what happened.

"The loss of a child is a loss that lasts forever," Hillerich said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Sixteen-year-old children should not go into a state-run facility and end up dying."

Gov. Matt Bevin's office and the Justice Cabinet said they are "committed to transparency," the Justice Cabinet said in a release.

Bob Hayter had served as commissioner since late 2014. The statement offered no other comments about Hayter's departure.

About a month ago, the Shelby County teenager was found unresponsive in her cell at Lincoln Village Juvenile Regional Detention Center in Hardin County.

Recently, a state Department of Juvenile Justice official wrote in an email that the Aikido restraint was used because the girl had refused to remove her sweatshirt so she could be searched during the booking process. An Aikido restraint typically immobilizes a person's arm.

Officials have said it appears that McMillen died in her sleep. They said she had arrived at the detention center Jan. 10 after allegedly having a domestic dispute in Shelbyville.

The cabinet said the other employee dismissal came after prior disciplinary actions against the employee came to light.

"While these disciplinary actions were not connected to the death, they reveal a pattern of unacceptable behavior for someone who supervises youth," the release said.

Hillerich said the employee's dismissal was "too little, too late."

WPFL radio in Louisville first reported Hayter's departure.