A Black man was arrested, physically restrained, and "smothered to death" by Virginia sheriff's deputies while being admitted to a mental hospital earlier this month, according to prosecutors.
On Tuesday (March 14), the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office announced second-degree murder charges for seven Henrico County deputies involved in the March 6 death of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno, per NBC News.
According to prosecutors, Otieno was physically restrained and died during the intake process at Central State Hospital.
"He died of asphyxia due to being smothered to death, thanks to having at least seven people, including the defendant, on top of him and holding him down," Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said at a court hearing on Wednesday (March 15).
Otieno was arrested for assaulting Henrico County officers who were responding to a burglary call at Parham Doctors' Hospital on March 3, according to police. Officers took Otieno to a local jail managed by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office and placed him under an “emergency custody order,” which is used in Virginia for cases of mental illness.
Days later, Henrico County sheriff’s office employees were transferring him to Central State Hospital when state police were called to investigate his death.
Mark Krudys, an attorney for the Otieno's family, said he was inhumanely treated.
“The family is truly grief-stricken after learning of the brutal nature of Irvo’s death and his inhumane treatment in the hours preceding his death,” Krudys said. “The public, and experienced mental health professionals alike, will be appalled when the facts of this case are fully made known.”
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, have been identified as the officers charged with second-degree murder, per the prosecutor’s office.
The seven deputies have also been placed on administrative leave, Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory said.
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