10 In Mental Hospital Death Of Irvo Otieno- Footage from a state mental hospital shows a Black Virginia man who was chained and shackled being pinned to the ground by officers who are now facing second-degree murder charges in his death, according to relatives and attorneys who viewed the tape Thursday.
The family and attorneys decried the violent treatment they said Irvo Otieno, 28, received in a local jail and at the state hospital, where authorities believe he died March 6 during the admittance procedure, at a news conference shortly after watching the video with a local prosecutor.
They asked the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene because Otieno’s constitutional rights were violated.
America, today was heartbreaking. Disturbing. Traumatic. Caroline Ouko, Otieno’s mother, stated he was tortured.
The latest Black guy to die in police custody is Otieno. It follows the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this year and nearly three years after the police shooting of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“It is extremely appalling that nearly three years after the terrible killing of George Floyd by police, another family is grieving a loved one who reportedly died in nearly the exact same manner—being pinned down by police for 12 torturous minutes,” Crump said.
At the news conference, Mark Krudys, another attorney for Otieno’s family, said the video showed all seven deputies now facing charges pushing down on Otieno, who was handcuffed and in leg irons.
“They’re working hard. “Every portion of his body is being brutally shoved down,” he stated.
Otieno’s death resulted in 10 second-degree murder charges. Three hospital employees and seven Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies were charged Tuesday and Thursday.
The family watched unreleased footage Thursday. At the deputies’ first hearing Wednesday, Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said Otieno was smothered.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch stated that Baskervill said Otieno was sitting in a chair before being hauled to the ground.
In a Thursday press release, she added charges against hospital employees Darian M. Blackwell, 23, of Petersburg; Wavie L. Jones, 34, of Chesterfield; and Sadarius D. Williams, 27, of North Dinwiddie. They were detained without bond and it was unclear if they had representation. The state police spokeswoman did not know if they had counsel, and court records did not show any. They were not accused of killing Otieno in the news release.
His family and counsel claimed Otieno, who was a youngster when his family emigrated from Kenya and grew up in suburban Richmond, had a history of mental health issues and was in emotional distress when he first encountered law police earlier this month.
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It led to several days in prison before authorities say he died March 6 while being admitted to Central State Hospital south of Richmond.
Krudys said hospital footage indicated a lack of effort to rescue Otieno after deputies discovered “that he was motionless and not breathing.”
Krudys said Otieno was a beloved high school athlete and pianist.
“There is goodness in his music and that’s all I’m left with now—gone,” he’s Ouko lamented at the news conference, clutching a framed portrait of her son.
I’ll miss his wedding. I’ll never have grandchildren because someone didn’t help him. She said no one intervened.
According to Henrico County Police, Otieno was arrested on March 3.
In a news statement, the police department said Otieno was taken to a local hospital for evaluation after officers contacted him while responding to a probable burglary in suburban Richmond.
Krudys said Otieno was having a mental health crisis when a neighbor called the police about him stealing lawn lights. He stated Otieno’s mother sought to calm a swarm of police officers and supported his hospitalization.
While in the hospital, police said he “became violently assaultive towards officers, who arrested him” and brought him to a Henrico Sheriff’s Office jail, where he was charged with various offenses.
The family counsel stated Otieno was denied medications in jail. On Thursday, the family watched a video from that institution and alleged unidentified officers beat Otieno again.
Video from a Virginia mental hospital of a Black man's death shows "absolute brutality," according to the relatives Irvo Otieno and their attorneys who viewed the footage. So far, 10 people have been charged with second-degree murder. https://t.co/ftuIqREU8A
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 16, 2023
Crump said he was pepper sprayed, and Krudys said the video showed officers on March 6 charging into his cell, which was covered in feces, while Otieno was naked and handcuffed. The footage shows officers taking a “nearly lifeless” Otieno by his arms and legs “like an animal” to a vehicle for delivery to the state hospital.
Ouko stated her son was handled worse than a dog.
Henrico County’s commonwealth’s attorney, Shannon Taylor, said Thursday she’s reviewing what happened in the jail that day and will reveal her findings. The Henrico sheriff declined further comment.
Baskerville said sheriff’s deputies admitted Otieno to Central State Hospital at 4 p.m. on March 6. She stated state police investigated his death at 7:28 p.m.
In court Wednesday, a defense attorney suggested that two medical injections Otieno had may have caused his death, which Baskerville denied, the Times-Dispatch said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not determined how Otieno died.
Court records and local media show two deputies were released on bond. The others were in detention with hearings next week.
In an email Thursday, Deputy Bradley Disse’s attorney, Edward Nickel, called his 20-year sheriff’s tenure “honorable.”
Nickel stated in an email that he was looking forward to trying the matter and having the complete truth revealed in court and being vindicated.
The Associated Press emailed and called attorneys listed in court records for the other deputies on Thursday.
In a statement posted to social media on Tuesday, the Henrico Fraternal Order of Police-Lodge 4 supported the officers and cautioned against prejudging the charges.
The investigation prevents its release. Crump said Thursday the family wants the footage released.
“How can we develop trust without transparency and accountability?” he said.