Detention Center Staffer In Gynnya McMillen Case Has A History Of Misconduct

Officials said Reginald Windham failed to perform required checks on Gynnya McMillen before she was found dead in her cell. The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice has disciplined him in the past, records obtained by BuzzFeed News show.

Gynnya McMillen Via facebook.com

The Kentucky juvenile detention center supervisor who failed to complete required 15-minute checks of teenager Gynnya McMillen — who died in her holding cell in January — has a record of negligence and using excessive force against residents, according to personnel files obtained by BuzzFeed News through an open-records request.

Reginald Windham, who has been a worker at the Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center since February 2005, was put on special investigative leave with pay on Jan. 21 for falsifying reports that he had completed required 15-minute bed checks the night before McMillen, 16, was found unresponsive in her cell, according to a letter sent to Windham from the Department of Juvenile Justice, which was included in his disciplinary records.

McMillen was arrested by Shelbyville Police on Jan. 10 after what authorities called a domestic incident involving her mother. She was charged with misdemeanor assault, the Shelbyville Police Department told BuzzFeed News.

She was then transferred to the detention center where she was placed in an “Aikido restraint,” which involves martial arts–style defense techniques, Department of Juvenile Justice spokewoman Stacy Floden told CBS News. She was restrained, Floden said, after she refused to remove her sweatshirt to allow staff to search and photograph her for booking.

McMillen was found unresponsive by staff on the morning of Jan. 11.

Audio of the emergency dispatch call from Lincoln Village staff that morning appears to show staff did not administer CPR until about 11 minutes after they found McMillen “cold” and “stiff.”

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The Department of Juvenile Justice reported McMillen was found unresponsive in her cell at 9:55 a.m. The emergency call came into dispatch at 10:04 a.m.

“Is CPR in progress?” the dispatcher asked a nurse on the call.

“No, it’s not,” said the nurse.

“Are you going to attempt CPR?” asked the dispatcher.

“Yes,” said the nurse.

“They want us to start CPR,” she called out to staff about one minute and 34 seconds into the call.

Instagram: @princess_gynnya

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice has disciplined or reprimanded Windham in five other instances as a staffer, including two excessive force incidents and three instances where he showed a lack of competency and professionalism, according to his personnel record.

All statements about Windham’s alleged conduct in this article are based on the records, which include supervisory conferences, reprimand letters and memos, case reports, incident reports and witness interview reports.

“If he’s been disciplined five times I’d be wondering why the facility would continue to employ him,” Ronald Hillerich, the McMillen’s family attorney, told BuzzFeed News. “Everyone is entitled to a second chance, but it raises a serious question as to whether his employment should be continued.”

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.

On Sept. 6, 2006, Windham slammed a youth resident — the term used for the people incarcerated at the facility — to the ground, the records show, for what he said was showing defiance and disrespect toward staff.

The resident just returned from court and was being processed back into the center, according to the records. Windham put the resident’s shoes on top of his pants, and the resident asked Windham to move the shoes because they had been on the cell’s dirty floors. Windham got upset with the resident, according to the records, and started yelling.

“This ain’t the Holiday Inn!” a youth resident who witnessed the incident told investigators.

Another staffer who was filing papers at the intake counter told investigators that the resident “started crying.” The staffer added that “she could see the tears on his face, and his lips quivering.”

Windham bumped the resident’s shoulder with his chest, according to the records, and the resident told Windham to “get out of his face.” Windham then allegedly picked up the resident and slammed him face first on the floor, according to the records.

“You’re breaking my fucking arm,” the resident said, according to the staffer who witnessed the incident and recounted it to investigators.

“Maybe I need to break your arm,” said Windham, according to another youth worker’s testimony to investigators.

Windham reported that he felt the resident needed to be restrained because he refused to keep his hands behind his back and stepped toward Windham while he was being booked back into the facility.

But video of the altercation showed that the youth did not move his hands from behind his back and never stepped toward Windham, according to records from the investigation. The video does not show the full restraint or the youth being slammed on his head.

The medical staff also released an evaluation of the resident after the altercation with Windham:

The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice

The resident suffered abrasions on his shoulders and an abrasion on his right arm with slight bleeding, according to the records, and had a half-centimeter-sized knot on the right side of his head. He complained that his head and left arm were in pain. He was given two ibuprofen by the center’s medical unit.

Windham was suspended for five days with pay.

In July 2010, he was given a written reprimand after he allegedly dragged another youth resident by her right leg into a cell, according to the records.

The reprimand stemmed from an April 2010 incident in which Windham was trying to help other youth workers with a resident who had been detained at the center for a month. The resident was upset that she could not call her case worker.

Windham asked the resident to hand over her pictures of her nieces and nephews, according to the records, but she wouldn’t give the photos to him.

She refused to get into her cell. Windham and another worker tried restraining her by the arms, but she lost her balance and fell, according to the records. She started to hit her head against the floor.

Windham then allegedly grabbed her by her right foot and dragged her into the cell, according to the records. The resident began to kick staff members and tried to run out of the cell. Another staffer eventually soothed her by speaking to her calmly, according to the records.

The resident didn’t show immediate injuries, but days later two bruises appeared on each of her legs, as well as a small knot on her head, according to the records.

The department reprimanded Windham, stating “further incidents of this nature may result in more severe disciplinary action against you, up to and including dismissal,” according to the records.

In two other instances in January and August 2011, the records show Windham was found to have violated the department’s policy that employees “perform their work assignments competently and in a professional manner” when he failed to send a youth resident home with medication and overlooked another resident’s medical restrictions.

On Jan. 21, 2011, Windham released a resident from the facility without his prescribed blood pressure medication, according to the records.

The resident was prescribed hydrochlorothiazide to treat blood pressure.

Two other workers were sent to a nearby city to deliver the medication after Windham sent an email to the medical staff notifying them that he had released the youth without the medication, according to the records.

The department discussed “the importance of a youth’s medication sent with youth as they exit the facility” during a supervisory conference with Windham, according to the records. Supervisors required “immediate compliance” of Windham to the department’s policies and procedures, as well as the facility’s standard operating procedures.

That August, Windham allowed a resident with a shunt in his head who was on medical restriction to play a game of soccer — where he was hit in the right eye, according to the records.

A shunt is typically inserted into the head through surgery to treat excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The youth resident complained of blurred vision in his right eye and was removed from recreation for the rest of the day.

“How did this kid get injured?!!” wrote the facility’s nurse, Shannon Mills-Garrison, in an email after the incident that is included in the records. “He has a shunt in his head and is on ALL REC RESTRICTIONS!! Please get back to me regarding this matter!!”

Windham was required to review the medical shift reports to make sure he is “aware of all youth restrictions and abides by those restrictions,” according to the department’s memo of disciplinary action. He was also required to adhere to the department’s employee code of conduct, which requires workers to be competent and professional in their work.

In this instance, Windham defended himself in a supervisory conference note suggesting that the department had only targeted him for disciplinary action rather than the recreation unit and its staff — who he said also allowed the youth to play.

“Why are two staffs getting conference for the same incident and the staff that was running the unit not mention [sic],” wrote Windham. “The report was on the unit. Was overlooked by all staff.”

And, in April 2006, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice found that Windham failed to sign a medical report to verify if a person “received or did not receive medications at the appropriate times.”

Windham and other staff did not initial the medical reports confirming medication was administered to “several residents,” according to the department’s administrative investigation.

The medication administrative record shows that a youth resident was required to have Benadryl cream applied to the midsection area at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day.

Windham was required to undergo remedial training in the department’s medical policies and protocols, according to the records.

“I don’t recall issuing med’s [sic] and not signing off on the form,” Windham wrote in a supervisory conference note. “I’ll be looking forward to remedial training.”

Windham could not be reached for comment by BuzzFeed News.

Read Windham’s disciplinary record here:

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Leticia Miranda is a consumer affairs reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Leticia Miranda at leticia.miranda@buzzfeed.com.
 
 

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