Family sues sheriff’s office for in-custody death of Natasha McKenna

WASHINGTON — The family of an Alexandria, Virginia, woman who died after a struggle with jail guards in Fairfax County has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Friday against the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office.

The family of 37-year-old Natasha McKenna is seeking $15 million for pain and suffering as well as a jury trial in the suit, claiming that the guards acted with “gross negligence” and “utter disregard” during the Feb. 3, 2015, incident.

The complaint alleges that the guards used excessive force and failed to take McKenna’s safety into account. Also, it alleges that the detention center was not equipped and guards not properly trained to work with someone suffering from a mental crisis.

During the incident that led to McKenna’s death, a special team of guards was called in to assist in the transport of McKenna from the county’s adult detention center. Video released of the event shows McKenna, who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, struggling with guards as they attempted to remove her from her cell.

Guards used a stun gun on McKenna four times while she was restrained. She lost consciousness and died several days later.

The family’s attorney Harvey Volzer said in an email to WTOP that McKenna’s mother, Claire Wilson, and young daughter want to see justice for the Alexandria woman.

“Natasha did nothing to warrant being tortured and killed by persons sworn to protect the public,” Volzer wrote.

Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid and five members of the sheriff’s office involved in the incident are named individually in the lawsuit.

The office of Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh investigated the case and determined that no crime occurred. Morrogh called the death a “tragic accident” and announced last September that no charges would be filed in the case.

Police 1st Lt. Maegan Timothy with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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