Details are hazy and still forthcoming, on the most recent example of potential police misconduct, in the death of a young black musician, Irvo Otieno, in Richmond, VA, on the 6th of March. However, the family of the victim has released video footage of Otieno’s last moments in custody after a grand jury has moved forward with second-degree murder indictments of all 10 people involved, including 7 Henrico county deputies and 3 hospital employees involved in the death on Tuesday.
The video shows an already restrained and seemingly calm Otieno being restrained by two deputies on the floor at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County. The deputies’ bodies partially block a clear view of Mr. Otieno, but he appears docile, with nearly imperceptible movements. At some point, deputies seem to sense that Otieno is presenting some type of threat and/or combativeness and proceed to lay him on the hospital floor and begin to restrain him. More and more officers join in until there are 7 deputies kneeling on him. The attempt to restrain him reportedly lasted for roughly 12 minutes before medical professionals were called in to administer life-saving procedures, as Mr. Otieno was rendered unconscious and completely unresponsive.
After numerous attempts at chest compressions and CPR, he is pronounced dead, and a white sheet is pulled over him.
According to the chief medical examiner’s preliminary report, Otieno died from asphyxiation. A statement from the local police union behind Henrico County’s Fraternal Order of police lodge 4 called the death tragic but also emphasized the difficulty in police performing their duties with the “possibility of being criminally charged while performing their duty.”
The arrest of Otieno stemmed from a call to local police on March 3rd, reporting a possible burglary. Otieno was seen gathering lawn lights from a neighbor’s yard, apparently suffering from a mental episode. After affecting arrested without incident, Otieno was brought to a hospital for evaluation. During his admittance, he allegedly assaulted three officers. This altercation led to his transfer to a local jail to be charged with assault, disorderly conduct in a hospital, and vandalism.
Attorneys for Otieno’s family allege that, during the 3-day jail stay, Otieno was pepper sprayed and denied proper treatment for his mental health condition, including withholding medication.
The 10 people mentioned in the indictment appeared before the grand jury on Tuesday. More charges are pending.