‘Done out of anger.’ Former Kentucky youth worker admits guilt in excessive force case

A former worker at a Kentucky juvenile detention facility pleaded guilty in connection with breaking a 15-year-old boy’s arm.

Nathaniel Lumpkins pleaded guilty to a federal charge of violating the teen’s Constitutional right to be free from excessive force.

The incident happened in January 2019 at the Woodsbend Youth Development Center in Morgan County.

Lumpkins responded to a call to help two other staffers who were trying to calm down a teen identified in the court record as L.J.

Lumpkins instead escalated the situation, running between the workers and putting his hands on L.J., who tried to get away, according to Lumpkins’ plea agreement.

That led to a struggle. The youth workers got L.J. down on the ground and four held him.

L.J. was compliant at that time and not a threat, but Lumpkins twisted the teens’ hand and put his body weight on his wrist, breaking his wrist, according to the plea agreement.

Lumpkins’s use of force wasn’t for any legitimate purpose, but “was instead done out of anger,” his plea agreement said.

Lumpkins knew he wasn’t allowed to use force on the teen in that way, and had been suspended less than three months earlier for improperly using the same restraint technique on another juvenile.

After other workers took L.J. to an isolation cell, Lumpkins slammed his injured arm against the wall and yelled at him.

In a report on the incident, Lumpkins falsely claimed L.J. had threatened to kill workers at the center and been physically aggressive, he acknowledged in the plea agreement.

Lumpkins pleaded guilty April 8 in federal court in Ashland. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August.

The charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.