Report: Viriginia Inmate Died After Being Tasered to Death While Handcuffed

by Tom Jackman and Justin Jouvenal, The Washington Post A mentally ill woman who died after a stu...


by Tom Jackman and Justin Jouvenal, The Washington Post

A mentally ill woman who died after a stun gun was used on her at the Fairfax County jail in February was restrained with handcuffs behind her back, leg shackles and a mask when a sheriff’s deputy shocked her four times, incident reports obtained by The Washington Post show.


Natasha McKenna initially cooperated with deputies, placed her hands through her cell door food slot and agreed to be handcuffed, the reports show. But McKenna, whose deteriorating mental state had caused Fairfax to seek help for her, then began trying to fight her way out of the cuffs, repeatedly screaming, “You promised you wouldn’t hurt me!” the reports show.

Then, six members of the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team, dressed in white full-body biohazard suits and gas masks, arrived and placed a wildly struggling 130-pound McKenna into full restraints, their reports state. But when McKenna wouldn’t bend her knees so she could be placed into a wheeled restraint chair, a lieutenant delivered four 50,000-volt shocks from the Taser, enabling the other deputies to strap her into the chair, the reports show.

The account comes from dozens of pages of sheriff’s deputy incident reports that provide the first complete account of the events leading to the death of the 37-year-old Alexandria mother that has troubled her family and local mental health advocates.

Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid declined to comment on the case but defended the use of a stun gun on a restrained prisoner, saying it was “a means that is often useful to ensure the safety of a person” rather than using physical force to gain compliance. She said stun guns were used “occasionally” on prisoners who are already restrained.

But four law enforcement experts interviewed by The Post questioned why a Taser was used on a restrained woman, how many times she was shocked and whether handling a mentally ill person with such force was the best approach.

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Photo Credit: Natasha McKenna Family

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