Questions Arise After 16-Year-Old Kentucky Girl Dies in Police Custody

A Kentucky community is demanding answers after a 16-year-old Black girl was found dead earlier this month while in police custody.

CBS News reports that Shelbyville, Kentucky, teen Gynnya McMillen was found unresponsive in her jail cell the morning of January 11, less than 24 hours after she was taken into custody. Specific details about her arrest have not been released, but police and a court-designated juvenile worker were called to McMillen’s home after receiving reports of a “domestic dispute.” 

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She was detained at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center and placed in a cell by herself. Late the following morning, workers found her dead. It is unclear why she was placed in a solitary cell or how often she had been checked on through the night.

An autopsy is underway, though Kentucky state trooper Jeff Gregory told CBS that it doesn’t appear that McMillen committed suicide or was the victim of a homicide. Additionally, a coroner said that an undiagnosed heart condition was unlikely, and no bruises or signs of struggle were found on her body.

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice has not issued a comment responding to McMillen’s death.

“We deserve to know what happened to her,” McMillen’s unidentified sister posted in the Facebook group, Justice for Gynnya McMillen. “And if there’s nothing to hide, there’s no reason why our questions should be unanswered.”