According to officials, ten persons have been charged with murder in the death of a 28-year-old man seen in security footage being pinned to the ground, including three Virginia mental hospital employees and seven sheriff’s officers.
On March 3, Henrico Police apprehended Irvo Otieno. Henrico Sheriff’s deputies transferred him to Central State, a psychiatric institution in Dinwiddie, a few days later, on March 6. He allegedly became belligerent, and deputies had to hold him. He was later pronounced deceased.
Virginia Hospital Staff Involved in Irvo Otieno’s Death
Darian M. Blackwell, 23, of Petersburg, Wavie L. Jones, 34, of Chesterfield, and Sadarius D. Williams, 27, of North Dinwiddie were identified as the three Central State Hospital employees. According to the commonwealth attorney’s office, they were detained on Thursday and are being held without bond at the Meherrin River Regional Jail in Brunswick County.
According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill, Otieno died on March 6 in the state mental health hospital during the admission process while being moved from a Henrico County jail.
Baskervill testified in court on Wednesday that Otieno was restrained in handcuffs and leg irons for 12 minutes by all seven deputies. She described the surveillance video as “extremely clear” and “extremely alarming.”
The preliminary report from the Richmond Office of Chief Medical Examiner identifies asphyxiation as the cause of death, according to a statement from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
Family Lawyers Calls Incident ‘Inhumane’
Prosecutors showed the footage to the Otieno family and their counsel on Thursday, human rights attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference.
Crump connected the footage to the death of George Floyd in May 2020, who was detained, forced to the ground, and restrained by Minneapolis police officers. Crump has requested that the US Department of Justice join the inquiry into Otieno’s death, claiming that his constitutional rights were violated.
According to authorities, Otieno’s interactions with law enforcement began on March 3. Henrico Police went to a complaint of a probable burglary that morning and contacted Otieno, according to a press release issued on March 10.
According to police, he was placed under emergency custody by officers and the county’s crisis intervention team as a result of their encounters with and observations of him.
At approximately 4 p.m. According to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, Otieno was brought by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office to be admitted to Central State Hospital, a state-run mental health facility south of Richmond, on March 6. It’s unclear why deputies moved Otieno.
Otieno grew “combative” and was “physically restrained” during the intake procedure, according to the attorney’s office, citing what state police investigators were informed. He died at the hospital “during the intake process,” according to the agency.
The Virginia State Police were summoned to investigate his death at 7:28 p.m., according to the office.