According to reports, a Virginia man died in custody after suffering from a mental disorder. The medical staff and deputies involved have now been accused of murder.
28-year-old Irvo Otieno was experiencing a mental episode at home in Henrico County, south of Richmond. Police initially took Otieno to the hospital. Otieno spent three days in jail before being transferred to Central State Hospital. This facility is 50 miles away from Otieno and it is state-run.
Deputies discovered Otieno naked and covered with feces in his cell on March 6. While they were moving Otieno, others tried to cover him in blankets.
Just before 4 p.m. that afternoon, surveillance footage at the hospital shows deputies and medical personnel hauling Otieno into a room with a handful of tables and bench seats. He is wearing pants as well as wrist and ankle restraints, as police stated that he had been “combative during the admission process.”
Once in the room, deputies and medical staff placed Otieno on the floor. At some point, the group of medical and law enforcement professionals gathered on top of Otieno and pinned him to the floor for 11 minutes, ostensibly to try and bring him under control.
They discovered Otieno was in severe medical distress. They took life-saving measures and Otieno succumbed to asphyxiation shortly thereafter.
In Tuesday’s second-degree murder incident, a grand jury indicted seven deputy prosecutors. These were Randy Joseph Boye (57), Dwayne AL Bramble (37) and Jermaine Lavar Branch (45), Bradley Thomas Disse (43), and Tabitha Renee Levere (55) while Kaiyell Dajour Sanders (30) were all placed on administrative leave.
Three members of medical staff were also charged with second-degree murder: Darian M. Blackwell (23), Wavie J. Jones (34), and Sadarius D. Wils (27). The hospital said that it was cooperating with police investigations and was trying to give information to Otieno and his loved ones regarding the hospital’s activities.
Caroline Ouko is upset and distraught for Otieno’s mom. Ouko said that Otieno was treated inhumanely, and it was traumatizing.
Ben Crump is a well-known civil rights lawyer who was hired by the family for a passionate speech about the “unnecessary” and “unjustifiable” actions of those involved in Otieno’s death.
Crump stood beside Ouko and said that he was being restrained with handcuffs. However, he is lying face down and is handcuffed using legions. You wonder “My God, how is that possible?” It’s inexcusable.
Crump also referenced George Floyd in a subtle way by saying that Otieno, like Floyd, died “with both his knees on the neck”. ”
Some attorneys representing the accused have strongly denied that they were wronged.
Caleb Kershner, representing Deputy Boyer, said that “Clearly, there was an essential need to restrain this man given the mental problems that were going on. ”
Cary Bowen, a lawyer representing Deputy Branch, expressed similar incredulity. Bowen claimed Otieno was acting “like [Otieno] could not resist” and that he wasn’t bipolar or manic. They were just picking on a nice guy. ”
To avoid any potential jurors being discredited, many lawyers attempted to block the release of surveillance footage from hospitals to the public. The Washington Post however shared the video just before the grand jury indicted them.
This investigation is ongoing.