Who is Irvo Otieno? 7 Deputy Sheriffs charged with Murder in death of Inmate

Who is Irvo Otieno? 7 Deputy Sheriff charged with Murder in death of Inmate

Seven sheriff’s deputies from Henrico County, Virginia, have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of inmate Irvo Otieno. Otieno died while in police custody earlier this month.

Who is Irvo Otieno? What happened to him?

The man, Irvo Otieno, 28, of Henrico County, Va., whose family emigrated from Kenya when he was 4 years old, appeared to have died from asphyxiation, or oxygen deficiency, on March 6 at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, his family’s lawyer, Mark Krudys, said in an interview. His family says Mr. Otieno was deprived of medication while in jail that he needed for his mental illness.

Irvo Otieno died on March 6 at a state mental health facility during the intake process as he was being transferred from a Henrico County jail, according to a statement from Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill. In court Wednesday, Baskervill said Otieno was in handcuffs and leg irons and was held on the ground for 12 minutes by all seven deputies.

“They smothered him to death,” she said. “He died of asphyxia due to being smothered.” She said the incident was captured on video that is “extremely clear, extremely alarming.” The video is 12 minutes long and shows “deliberate and cruel treatment,” she added. CNN obtained audio of the court hearings for all seven of the deputies from the Dinwiddie Circuit Court Clerk.

Cause of Death

“From news reports, it appears that the Virginia State Police have not completed their investigation of the death, and the Medical Examiner has not released a cause or manner of death,” the organization added. “With these things in mind, and cognizant of every accused’s presumption of innocence, we support our Brothers and Sisters, and hope for a quick resolution that clears their names.”

Seven sheriff’s deputies charged with murder

Seven sheriff’s deputies in Virginia have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a Black man with a history of mental illness who died after the officers smothered him as he lay on the ground in handcuffs and leg shackles at a hospital, his family’s lawyer and a county prosecutor said on Wednesday. The seven deputies from the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office “have been placed on administrative leave” until the case is closed, Sheriff Alisa Gregory of Henrico County said in a statement.

“The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Mr. Otieno’s life was lost,” Sheriff Gregory said, noting that her office was cooperating with the investigation of the Virginia State Police.

Who is Irvo Otieno? 7 Deputy Sheriff charged with Murder in death of Inmate

Footage and Murder scene were obscured

The Dinwiddie County prosecutor, Ann Cabell Baskervill, said in court on Wednesday that Mr. Otieno had suffocated from the weight of the seven deputies smothering him, CBS 6 News reported. “There is video footage of exactly what happened, and he was not agitated and combative,” Ms. Baskervill said of Mr. Otieno. “He was held down on the ground, pinned on the ground for 12 minutes by all seven of our defendants charged here.”

She did not immediately respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Wednesday. The authorities have identified the deputies involved as Randy Joseph Boyer, 57, of Henrico; Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37, of Sandston; Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45, of Henrico; Bradley Thomas Disse, 43, of Henrico; Tabitha Renee Levere, 50, of Henrico; Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48, of Henrico; and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30, of North Chesterfield.

Court records did not list the names of lawyers representing some of the deputies. The records show that court hearings were scheduled on Wednesday to appoint lawyers for some of them.

Prosecutor Statements

Cary Bowen, who is representing Mr. Branch and did not respond to calls and an email seeking comment, told reporters outside the courthouse in Dinwiddie County on Wednesday that the prosecutor “has taken a very aggressive position here, and it’s pretty unusual to go about things the way it’s been done,” as per the reports.

Mr. Bowen added in court that the deputies had struggled to restrain Mr. Otieno, whom he described as “physically very robust” and as having a history of mental health struggles. The Henrico Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 4, the local police union, said on Facebook that while the death of Mr. Otieno was tragic, “we also stand behind the seven accused deputies.” The organization also emphasized that the Virginia State Police had not yet finished its investigation and that the medical examiner had not released a cause of death as of Wednesday.

“With these things in mind, and cognizant of every accused’s presumption of innocence, we support our brothers and sisters, and hope for a quick resolution that clears their names,” the union said.

Encounter between law enforcement and a person with a mental illness

The case is the latest example of an encounter between law enforcement and a person with a mental illness that ended in violence or death. According to a Washington Post database that tracks police shootings in the United States, 21 percent of people killed by law enforcement since 2015 had a known mental illness.

The death of Mr. Otieno also came as law enforcement agencies across the country face increasing scrutiny over arrests that have turned deadly. Earlier this year, Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man pulled over in a traffic stop, was beaten by Memphis police officers for roughly three minutes on the evening of Jan. 7, and died three days later.

Mr. Otieno was a well-known athlete growing up in Henrico, Mr. Krudys said and began having mental health struggles as a young adult. Mr. Krudys declined to share more details about Mr. Otieno’s mental health condition.

What happened to Irvo Otieno according to the neighbor’s Statement?

On March 3, Mr. Otieno appeared to be experiencing mental health distress and walked to a neighbor’s lawn, where he picked up some solar-powered lights laid out on the property, Mr. Krudys said. A neighbor called the Henrico Police Department, whose officers placed Mr. Otieno under an emergency custody order before taking him to a hospital “for further evaluation,” the police said in a statement.

At the hospital, police said last week, Mr. Otieno was “physically assaultive” toward officers, who arrested him, took him to the Henrico County Jail, and charged him with three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer and one count each of disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism.

Social Media Response

Lance Davis Posted

If any other organization failed half as hard as the police we’d defund them and put the money somewhere viable.

Rhonda Roy Posted

Police in the USA must have reformed to be good cops. Racism can never be just like in the army. You serve and protect all!!

Michelle M Martin Posted

Y’all need to quit believing the media hook, line & sinker. How democratic of all of you… And nope I’m not defending the police. This is only one side I early reporting to get you to hate the police.

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