LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Silence took over Jefferson Street Wednesday night as people stood in search for one thing— justice for Gynnya McMillen, the teen who spent the night in a cell at the Lincoln Village Detention Center in Elizabethtown and never woke up.
Rebecca Frederick never met Gynnya, but the teenager's story hits her on a personal level.
“It crushes me,” Fredrick said. “Being a mother is the greatest love I've ever known and to have that ripped away, I couldn't imagine. To have that ripped away from mistakes, or bias or reasons that aren't justifiable is even worse and I think that's sort of what's happening here,” the activist with Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice explained.
The autopsy report says Gynnya died from natural causes, but the case raised several questions about how she was treated at Lincoln Village. A lawsuit, filed by McMillen's mother, claims the Detention Center's employees heard McMillen coughing the night she died and watched her have seizure-like movements. McMillen’s mother claims the staff did nothing to help her.
“How can we as a society allow that to be normalized and allow that to be the way we're treating people?” said Frederick.
Those employees have since been fired and are facing misconduct charges in Hardin County District Court, but reforms are already taking place to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"Since that time we have dismissed 20 plus employees, including changes in new leadership. We've instituted mandatory statewide re-training,” said Secretary John Tilley with the KY Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
He told WHAS11 News McMillen never should've been held in the detention center's cell in the first place.
“In her case, no I don't think she should have been in a detention center,” he said.
Tilley said it was a lack of accessibility to records and it was the judge's decision to send the teen to the detention center.
"We need to continue to work on alternatives for incarceration especially for our low level offenders and youth like this young lady,” Tilley said.
Until then, people with the group, Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice said they will continue to stand until they feel justice is served.
Former Lincoln village employees Reginald Windham and Victor Holt are facing misconduct charges surrounding McMillen's stay at the facility. They have a court date scheduled for next month.
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