Ten people are facing charges of second-degree murder after a man was killed during the intake process at a mental health facility in Virginia earlier in March.
On March 3, Irvo Otieno was placed under arrest by the Henrico County police after he reportedly assaulted police officers who were responding to reports of a possible burglary. After their initial contact with Otieno, officers determined he required evaluation and transported him to a local hospital where he became “physically assaultive,” according to the police report.
On March 6, Otieno was transferred to a state mental health facility in Dinwiddie County where prosecutors allege he was “smothered” to death during the intake process, CNN reported.
According to Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill, Otieno was physically restrained on the ground with handcuffs and leg irons by seven law enforcement officers for 12 minutes, the outlet stated. At some point during that time, Otieno died. A preliminary report from the Office of Chief Medical Examiner identified asphyxiation as a cause of death, CNN reported, citing a statement by Baskervill. (RELATED: FBI Launches Investigation Into Series Of Deaths At Texas Jail)
Three hospital employees in Virginia have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the law enforcement custody death of Irvo Otieno https://t.co/GU814CSQXh
— CNN (@CNN) March 16, 2023
In addition to the seven deputies – identified as Randy Joseph Boyer, 57; Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37; Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45; Bradley Thomas Disse, 43; Tabitha Renee Levere, 50; Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48; and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30 – three hospital workers have also been arrested in connection with Otieno’s death, CNN reported. They have been identified as Darian M. Blackwell, 23; Wavie L. Jones, 34; and Sadarius D. Williams, 27.
“My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog,” Otieno’s mother told CNN after viewing surveillance footage of the incident. “We have to do better.”
Otieno’s older brother, Leon Ochieng, echoed his mother’s sentiments, calling for a better understanding on how to handle people suffering from mental illness. “What I saw was a lifeless human being without any representation,” Ochieng told the outlet.
The Henrico Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4 and the local law enforcement officers’ union have thrown their support behind the accused officers.
“Policing in America today is difficult, made even more so by the possibility of being criminally charged while performing their duty,” the group said in a statement cited by CNN. “The death of Mr. Otieno was tragic, and we express our condolences to his family. We also stand behind the seven accused deputies now charged with murder by the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill,” the statement continued.
The 10 accused are scheduled to appear in court March 21. If convicted, the defendants face a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years, the outlet stated.