After Va. inmate death, public meeting held on police practices in Fairfax County

- Protesters and residents showed up at a public meeting Monday night about police practices in Fairfax County. They are upset over how officials handled the death of an inmate while she was in custody in February.

All the officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing in the case and new video released last week from the sheriff's department showed the moments leading up to her death.

A subcommittee on the use of force has released 40 recommendations and said that list could grow based on public feedback here from this meeting.

Black Lives Matter demonstrators were here protesting the police confrontation with McKenna and the lack of charges against the deputies.

"Her murder was ruled an accident as if it never happened,” said one of the protesters. “That is a problem for me as a black woman in this country.”

“It bothers me too that we’ve had this tremendous effort to come up with a list of recommendations, which are really common sense,” said one resident. “Why in the hell didn’t we implement these years ago?”

“People all over the world in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, Africa have seen that horrific video showing a mentally ill black woman treated in such a brutal manner,” said another speaker at the meeting. “These same people ask me if the United States really is that violent.”

“We are quick to find fault with the police and not speak about the good things the police does for the community,” another audience member said. “We as citizens are failing our police by not advocating more for the police to have a relationship with our community. We have certain citizens who create an unhealthy climate between the community and police. How do you train a community?”

Those are just a glimpse of the raw emotions that filled Monday night’s meeting.

The commission is recommending police review policies on the use of physical control equipment and techniques to assure that they address any unique requirements of vulnerable populations, including people with mental disabilities. McKenna reportedly suffered from multiple mental illnesses.

Another recommendation that came out of the meeting includes redefining the use of force definition for police.

Also, the commission recommended the reclassification of Tasers as less lethal weapons rather than non-deadly weapons.

However, the irony of all this is that the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office is outside the scope of these recommendations and McKenna was in their custody during the altercation that led up to her death.

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