Virginia Prosecutor Won't Seek Criminal Charges in Death of Natasha McKenna

Photo by Fairfax County Police Department
McKenna, who suffered from schizophrenia, died in February after she was tased four times by police with 50,000 volts of electricity

A Virginia prosecutor will not be seeking criminal charges against the six officers involved in the death of Natasha McKenna, a 37-year-old mother who died in February after she was tased in police custody.

In a 51-page report, Fairfax county prosecutor Raymond F. Morrogh concluded that McKenna, who was 5-foot-4, possessed "superhuman strength" when resisting restraint and that the officers all exhibited behavior in accordance with their training. 

"It was Ms. McKenna's severe mental illness, coupled with the tremendous physical exertion she put forth over an extended period of time struggling with deputies that resulted in a cascade of lethal chemical reactions inside her body," Morrogh wrote.

According to a police report, on January 26, McKenna, who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, called Fairfax authorities from a grocery story to report that someone had assaulted her. When officials arrived on the scene, they took McKenna into custody to undergo a medical evaluation. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, McKenna was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Alexandria County officer one week prior. 

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In the days following her arrest, Fairfax authorities reportedly reached out to Alexandria police multiple times to retrieve McKenna, whose health was wavering due to her lacking medication, and transport her to a mental health facility (Fairfax police couldn't admit her legally). After eight days of no response, Fairfax police began preparing to transport McKenna to the neighboring county, but a frightened McKenna resisted.

Surveillance video, which was just released this week, shows six officers in biohazard suits approaching a restrained McKenna and tasering her four times over the course of 20 minutes with 50,000 volts of electricity, causing her to fall unconscious. An officer administered CPR before taking her to a hospital. She died five days later of "excited delirium," a cause of death oftentimes caused by tasing. 

Since McKenna's death, the Fairfax Police Department has reportedly stopped using tasers, and a group of representatives is looking into how the department can better handle mentally ill inmates.

A federal investigation is underway.

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