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.
This woman was Natasha McKenna, a petite mother of a young child. Any explanation as to why it was acceptable to use a Taser four times on a woman whose hands are handcuffed behind her back, legs restrained, with a mask on is completely bogus.
Numerous experts said the use of a stun gun on a fully restrained prisoner was an unreasonable use of force, particularly in a jail setting where a person is unlikely to flee. They also said Tasers are not recommended for use on the mentally ill, that even the Taser manufacturer warns against using them on people in a state of “excited delirium,” and that using a stun gun more than three times is thought to be above the threshold for use on a single person.“She wasn’t a threat; she wasn’t going anywhere; she was restrained,” said Richard Lichten, a use-of-force expert and former jail official in Los Angeles. “It feels excessive, unnecessary and out of policy, based on what you’re telling me.”
The truth is, though, that police have been covering up the real details on Natasha’s death for months. Furthermore, multiple sources told NBC that police detectives were denied access to the Fairfax County jail for their investigation into her death. Only after two months of pressure was it revealed that Natasha McKenna was as physically restrained as a human being could possibly be when she was tasered over and over and over and over again.Even after all of this, police are not quite clear on why Natasha McKenna was even jailed in the first place. On the day she was arrested, she had actually called the police herself to report being assaulted and appeared to be struggling mightily with mental illness before she bounced around between hospitals and jails for days.
As a nation, we have clearly set ourselves up for failure with mental health. In need of compassionate care, Natasha McKenna instead received violent brutality.