Medical Examiner Says Mentally Ill Inmate Natasha McKenna Died of Excited Delirium


UPDATE: More on ‘excited delirium’ and its diagnosis in in-custody deaths involving the use of force.

According to the Fairfax County Police, a medical examiner has ruled that 37-year old inmate Natasha McKenna died of ‘excited delirium’ while in custody last February.

Natasha suffered from schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, and was arrested on January 26th after she called 911 to report she had been assaulted. After taking her to the hospital, police realized they had a warrant for her arrest stemming from an alleged assault on a police officer a few weeks earlier.

After a few days behind bars, Natasha’s condition deteriorated rapidly to the point that jail officials felt it necessary to remove the distressed 5’3″, 130 pound woman from her cell using six armor-clad sheriff’s deputies, a spit hood, restraints and tasers.

It’s unclear whether Natasha was receiving any kind of mental health treatment prior to her detention, and there hasn’t been any indication yet of the quality of care she received behind bars.

If the Fairfax County Police were negligent in providing adequate mental healthcare to Natasha, and thereafter chose to use brute force, weapons and restraints to confront her, it’s not hard to see how she might die from a state of excited delirium.

Brian Sonenstein
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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein is a Berkeley-based writer, activist and former Campaign Director and Associate Publisher for Learn more at
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14 thoughts on “Medical Examiner Says Mentally Ill Inmate Natasha McKenna Died of Excited Delirium

  1. She died from: ANOXIC BRAIN INJURY, due to compression blocking her airway and electrical shock. DEEP BLUNT FORCE INJURIES TO HER EXTREMITIE AND TORSO, she was beaten up prior to the death day and during the so called restraining. These type of injuries causes tissue to enter the bloodstream resulting in multiple organ failure. HYPOTHERMIA was also listed as a cause. She was stripped at booking and made to stay completely naked in solitary confinement for the entire time she was in Fairfax VA jail. The naked humiliation continued even when there ostensibly was supposed to be a transport to another jail. It was the DEAD OF WINTER TIME. Other causes were listed as “contributing factors” also, such as ACUTE KIDNEY INJURY, etc..

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