A 16-year-old Kentucky girl was put in a martial-arts restraint before she was found dead in police custody. Gynnya McMillen was found unresponsive in her cell at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown the morning of January 11.
The detention center originally said that the teen had died in her sleep, but recently told the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting that a restraint had been applied to her during an incident the day before.
A spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice said that McMillen refused to take off her sweatshirt for a booking photo, prompting the “Aikido restraint” by multiple guards.
Aikido is a form of Japanese martial art that allows a practitioner to defend him or herself without hurting their attacker. Since Aikido is a style of martial arts and not a specific move, it’s unclear exactly how the teen was restrained.
Michele Deitch, a juvenile justice expert at University of Texas at Austin, told CBS of the move’s motive, “As far as I’m concerned that is a completely inappropriate use of a restraint.”
McMillen, who was brought in the morning of the 10th for a misdemeanor assault in a domestic incident at her mother’s house, was discovered dead in a “sleeping position” the next day.
Juveniles at the center are supposed to be checked on by staff every 15 minutes, though McMillen was not given regular visual checks through the window in her cell and could have gone unchecked for hours.
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