WAMU 88.5 : News

Fairfax County Sheriff's Office Refuses To Turn Over Video Of Tasing Incident

Play associated audio
According to information received in a Freedom of Information Act request, the Fairfax Sheriff's Office has used a Taser X26P on inmates 10 times in the last three years. Sheriff Stacey Kincaid is using her discretion to deny public access to video of Natasha McKenna being hit with a Taser, a confrontation that resulted in her death.
Taser
According to information received in a Freedom of Information Act request, the Fairfax Sheriff's Office has used a Taser X26P on inmates 10 times in the last three years. Sheriff Stacey Kincaid is using her discretion to deny public access to video of Natasha McKenna being hit with a Taser, a confrontation that resulted in her death.

Why is the Fairfax County Sheriff's office withholding video footage of a fatal incident involving a Fairfax County Sheriff's deputy Tasing an inmate?

The sheriff's office says Natasha McKenna was being uncooperative the day deputies arrived to transfer her to Alexandria — so uncooperative that they sent in a unit known as the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team. Those are the heavy black uniforms with riot gear helmets — and cameras.

The incident, which led to the death of the inmate, was captured on video. But the sheriff's office is denying a Freedom of Information Act request from WAMU for the video.

"There should be no need to use a Taser on somebody who is actually in detention and already confined. There's no threat or anything like where officers can't use other methods to gain control of the individual," says Justin Mazzola, a researcher with Amnesty International. "There are ways that they could release any information related to the investigation into this report without releasing any details of the person who was imprisoned at the time."

Unlike most states, Virginia gives law enforcement agencies the ability to withhold almost anything. And police chiefs and sheriffs take advantage of that discretion, withholding video of everything from a Fairfax County officer firing a deadly shot at an unarmed driver to this incident, in which a mentally ill woman was hit with a stun gun.

"The entire point of creating video records of law-enforcement activities is to provide transparency," says Adam Marshall of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "And by not releasing the video, the Sheriff's Office is preventing that transparency and preventing the people of Virginia from really knowing what happened in that incident."

Although Sheriff Kincaid promises a prompt and transparent investigation, she declined a request from WAMU to answer questions about her decision to withhold the video from the public.

NPR

Pack These Pages: Three Must-Reads For Summer

Harriet Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio, recommends a graphic novel about trash, a George Eliot classic and a children's book about a bear pianist.
NPR

Why Does Every New Restaurant Look Like A Factory?

The stripped-down look of exposed brick, poured cement floors, and Edison light bulbs is popular in restaurants across America. One reporter dares to ask, "Seriously, why?"
WAMU 88.5

Why Local Nonprofits Haven't Fixed Poverty

As long as there has been poverty, there have been people trying to end it. We explore the obstacles and inefficiencies local nonprofits run into when trying to solve society's stubborn problem.

WAMU 88.5

Can We Trust Our Cars?

There were more airbag recalls this week, and VW has agreed to pay nearly fifteen billion in its emissions cheating scandal. Meanwhile, cars with driverless technology are becoming available, but whether they will make us safer is up for debate. A look at auto safety and consumer trust.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.