A mentally-ill person in crisis shouldn’t end up in jail. It isn’t the appropriate placement for someone in such a condition. That Natasha McKenna ended up in jail was bad enough. That she ended up dying from what can only be the misuse of a taser is horrific. Applying a taser to the same human body four times in succession is not appropriate. In fact, it is known to be dangerous. In her case, it was lethal.
To add insult to injury, the medical examiner’s interim report lists “excited delirium” as the primary cause of death and the application of the taser as a contributing cause.
This is an outrageous attempt to stall in a case that is expected, per the Fairfax County sheriff, to be the subject of a lawsuit by McKenna’s family.
While it’s nice to hear county officials talk about changing procedures to avoid new cases like this one, it doesn’t make their handling of McKenna’s case any better. In fact, law enforcement’s refusal to ever admit fault, even in the most obvious of cases, makes matters even worse.
Natasha McKenna should have lived to get better, love, and raise her three children.
— I will update this page as new information emerges.
Report finds Tasers helped cause Va. inmate death
April 28, 2015
FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) — The Virginia Medical Examiner has determined that four shots from a Taser helped cause the death of a mentally ill inmate.
Natasha McKenna died after being restrained and repeatedly shot with a Taser while being transported from the Fairfax County Jail in February.
McKenna, who suffered from schizophrenia, was stunned four times by Fairfax County Sheriff deputies when she fought back. They were attempting to transfer her to another jail. Instead, she went into a coma and later died.
Now, the Virginia’s Medical Examiner finds McKenna’s cause of death to be “excited delirium associated with physical restraint, including the use of conducted energy device.”
But the validity of term “excited delirium” is under debate in medical communities. The ACLU says the cause of death designation seems to only be used when a person, often mentally ill, dies after a struggle with law enforcement.
Sheriff Stacey Kincaid, who runs the jail, has said they were transferring McKenna in order to get the treatment. Commenting on the medical examiner’s finding, Kincaid said that it’s a preliminary report.