Police Complete Investigation Into Death of Fairfax County Inmate - NBC4 Washington

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Police Complete Investigation Into Death of Fairfax County Inmate

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    As the investigation into the death of Natasha McKenna continues, a local mental health advocate is questioning whether detention center employees used excessive force. News 4's Jackie Bensen reports. (Published Monday, July 13, 2015)

    Fairfax County police have completed a five-month investigation into the death of an inmate who was shocked with a stun gun several times in the Fairfax County jail.

    The case file connected to the February death of 37-year-old Natasha McKenna was sent to Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh for review, police said Monday. Police made no recommendation on whether charges should be filed, nor would they typically do so, spokesman Don Gotthardt said.

    Video of the incident, in which a stun gun was used multiple times on McKenna does exist and was reviewed, according to County Police Chief Ed Roessler.

    McKenna stopped breathing Feb. 3 after she was shocked multiple times while shackled as she resisted efforts to move her from her cell, officials said. She died five days later.

    A medical examiner's report previously ruled McKenna's death as accidental.

    Mental health advocate Pete Earley, a member of an ad hoc committee on reforming police practices in Fairfax County, said many questions are still unanswered.

    "I was very, very very disappointed. What upsets me is it's always easy to blame the person with mental illness," he said.

    Neither the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office, which is in charge of the jail, nor police have addressed why McKenna became combative in the first place, Earley said.

    "He doesn't mention that she was in that jail for nine days, that she was handcuffed, that she had leg irons on and she only weighs 130 pounds," Earley said about new information Roessler provided Monday. "She had six deputies around her in a controlled environment and somehow she's responsible for bringing all this on"

    The case file is extensive and it will take some time to review before making a decision on whether any charges should be filed, Morrogh said. The six-month investigation included 50 interviews and independent testing of the stun gun used on McKenna. 

    The McKenna family's lawyer, Harvey Volzer, said he wants to be able to review the video now that police have completed their investigation.