Natasha McKenna was a 37-year-old mother of one living in Alexandria, Virginia. On February 8, 2015, Natasha was being held at a detention center in Fairfax County, Virginia, on suspicion of attacking a police officer. Natasha had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and was to be transferred to Alexandria, where she would be provided with legally required mental health accommodations. When she refused to leave her cell, a six-person Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team was called in for assistance. During the 45-minute struggle, members of the response team tackled and restrained Natasha before tasering her at least four times. Natasha suffered cardiac arrest, lost consciousness and died at a hospital five days later. The medical examiner’s office ruled her death accidental but linked to her repeated tasering.
No criminal charges were filed against the officers involved.
Natasha’s death led to increased awareness around the repeated use of the term “excited delirium” (EXD), a questionable diagnosis used in many autopsies of Black people killed by police or under suspicious circumstances. In the wake of Natasha McKenna’s death, more people raised the question of whether EXD is a real medical condition.
Natasha had a daughter who was only seven years old at the time of her death. These victims all have family members who loved them and whose lives are changed forever as a result of these state-sanctioned murders.