Sadly, the instances of police brutality and injustice that are widely reported, all involve Black men. But don’t be fooled, Black women are also victims. In addition to the emotional trauma we endure when we have to bury our sons, husbands and fathers, we also suffer in the physical violence that police exercise against Black bodies.
Her name might have not made it onto your radar until now but Natasha McKenna, from Alexandria, Virginia was a victim of that violence. She lost her life to it. And as if the loss of life wasn’t enough, insult was added to injury when a Virginia medical examiner’s office ruled her death an accident.
Before we examine this, let me you remind you what an accident is. An accident is “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.”
But looking at the details of McKenna’s death, it was anything but an accident.
According to The Washington Post, Natasha McKenna, 37, died in February after she was restrained with handcuffs and leg shackles and was shocked, tasered four times. When she stopped breathing, she was taken to the hospital, where she died several days later.
Police quoted the autopsy report that said the cause of death was “excited delirium associated with physical restraint including use of conductive energy device, contributing: Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar Disorder.”
Yes, you read that correctly, officials said that McKenna died because she was deliriously excited. And the manner of death was listed as “Accident.”
But when you shock someone four times, it is clear that you mean to harm them, intentionally. But McKenna wasn’t just shocked. Both of her eyes were blackened one of her fingers was amputated or missing and there were several bruises running up the length of her arm.
McKenna was intentionally beaten, repeatedly, while she was handcuffed and shackled. Looking at the chair used to restrain her, it’s clear to me that she was tortured.
Natasha McKenna, who diagnosed with Schizophrenia by the time she was 12-years-old, was 5 feet and 3 inches tall and 130 pounds, yet six officers beat and tasered her four times in order to restrain her.
Douglas Zipes, a professor of medicine at Indiana University told the Daily Kos, “They’ve come up with the concept that the individual is so excited they bring on their own death. That you can be excited is without question. That you can be delirious is without question. But the concept of this being a syndrome causing death is incorrect and false.”
Medical officials have said that being shocked more than three times you start placing people at risk for cardiac arrest. In addition to being shocked, McKenna also was arrested and jailed for eight days without appropriate medical attention.
Before McKenna died, she told authorities, “You promised you wouldn’t hurt me!”
They broke that promise with the premeditated and horrific acts they executed against her body. And the system failed her again when they ruled the acts that no doubt contributed to her ultimate death an accident.