Sheriff releases video of struggle with mentally ill inmate who died

Published 10:12 am Friday, September 11, 2015

FAIRFAX, Va. — A video released Thursday shows a prolonged struggle between a naked, mentally ill inmate and five deputies in biohazard suits who shocked her four times with a stun gun before she lost consciousness.

The inmate, 37-year-old Natasha McKenna, died several days after the struggle, prompting a months-long criminal investigation. Thursday’s release of the 45-minute video by Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid comes two days after the county’s lead prosecutor announced he would not file charges, calling the death a “tragic accident.”

A medical examiner also ruled the death accidental, specifically by excited delirium associated with use of restraints and a stun gun. McKenna’s schizophrenia was listed as a contributing factor. The case remains the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.

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The video, released on YouTube, begins with a deputy explaining that a special Emergency Response Team is being used to take McKenna, who is African-American, out of her cell at a jail in Fairfax and transfer her to the jail in Alexandria, where she had been charged with assaulting a police officer. The deputy says the team is needed because McKenna had previously attacked one of her jailers and because she had created a biohazard situation by throwing urine at guards.

A report released Tuesday by Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh indicated that deputies were also concerned because medical tests showed McKenna had multiple communicable diseases, including herpes and MRSA.