Fairfax County, VA — A mentally ill woman is dead, and her family wants justice after details of her brutal killing in police custody have become public.
Natasha McKenna, 37, was shocked four times with 50,000 volts while her hands were cuffed behind her back, her legs in shackles, and wearing a mesh mask.
McKenna, who has schizophrenia, was in jail for allegedly punching an officer in January. She had been hospitalized for mental treatment and was subsequently charged with felony assault.
On the morning of Feb 3, McKenna was being transferred to Alexandria to face charges for the assault.
According to a report out of the Washington Post,
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.
Once she was in the chair, deputies noticed that McKenna was in medical distress, according to the reports.
The multiple electric shocks stopped her heart and her breathing. She was taken to Fairfax hospital, however, it was too late. McKenna was declared brain dead and removed from life-support several days later.
“They didn’t need to confront her this way. They made it worse,” said McKenna’s mother, Marlene Williams, to the Post. “She was mentally sick.”
Try to imagine what six large men, attacking in gas masks, and white biohazard suits look like to a woman in McKenna’s deteriorated mental state. She was probably mortified.
The Taser manufacturer specifically states not to use the taser on mentally ill people as well as people in a state of “excited delirium.” The manufacturer also warns not to use a taser on a person more than three times. Fairfax deputies ignored both of these warnings, and their negligence has left a woman dead.
McKenna was in a jail cell, in a jail. She could not have gone anywhere. Instead of waiting for McKenna to calm down, deputies escalated the situation to an uncalled for level of violence.
This 130 pound woman was cuffed, shackled, and blindfolded. Are we supposed to believe that pain compliance through electrocution was the only option for these deputies?
Fairfax jail officials were well aware of McKenna’s mental health, yet they treated her like an animal. A family has to go on for the rest of their lives knowing that their beloved Natasha was killed by police for being sick.