The Virginia man whom seven officers are accused of killing was in the midst of a mental health crisis, handcuffed and shackled, and posed no threat to law enforcement officers, his family said Thursday after viewing video. of the incident.
«My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog,» Caroline Ouko said Thursday. «He was murdered. They suffocated my baby breathless. They murdered my baby.»
Seven Henrico County deputies have been charged with second-degree murder in the March 6 death of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno. Three hospital employees have also been charged in his death, the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.
The Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Prosecutor’s Office said in court Wednesday that Otieno «died of suffocation due to being suffocated to death by having at least seven people…on top of him and holding him down.»
Otieno’s family and lawyers were shown video Thursday of what happened as he was checked into a state hospital after an earlier arrest.
«What we just saw…was a comment about how law enforcement inhumanely treats people who are having a mental health crisis like criminals, instead of treating them like people who need help,» attorney Ben said. Crump to journalists.
Mark Krudys, a lawyer for Otieno’s family, said after viewing the video that the seven officers could be seen pushing down on «every part of his body» with «absolute brutality.»
“I really wasn’t prepared to see this,” Krudys said.
“You can see they’re putting their back on this. Every part of her body is being pushed down with absolute brutality. You can’t even see the image of her many times.”
Four of the officers weighed at least 250 pounds, with the heaviest weighing 320 pounds, according to court documents.
Crump said that «it is truly shocking that almost three years after the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of police, another family is mourning a loved one who supposedly died in exactly the same way.» He said the incident at the hospital lasted 11 minutes.
Prosecutors have said Otieno was handcuffed and in leg shackles when officers pinned him to the ground.
Otieno’s attorneys said they hope the Justice Department will investigate.
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, were charged, the prosecutor’s office said.
Disse’s attorney, Edward K. Nickel, said Thursday that his client hopes he can defend himself. “The charges were initiated by criminal information, an extraordinarily unusual method of initiating arrest paperwork in Virginia,” he said. «However, the final charges, if any, that our client will face will be determined by the grand jury next Tuesday.»
Cary Bowen, who represents Branch, said his client has been with the department for 24 years.
“None of them are known as thugs,” he has said.
The other deputies could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon, and it was unclear if they had lawyers who could speak for them.
Before his death, Otieno had been arrested and charged with assaulting Henrico County police officers at Parham Physicians Hospital after they responded to a possible burglary call on March 3, county police said in a statement. statement.
Henrico County police officers had placed Otieno under an «emergency custody order,» the department said. Such orders are used in cases of mental illness, according to virginian law.
County police said that at the hospital, Otieno «became physically aggressive toward the arresting officers» and was taken to a local jail, run by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office, where he was charged with various charges.
The sheriff’s office went to Central State Hospital at 3:58 p.m. March 6 to admit Otieno as a patient, the prosecutor’s office said.
At around 7:30 p.m., state police were called to investigate her death. Prosecutors have said state police investigators were told he had become combative during the admission.
The deputies were placed on administrative leave, Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory said.
Otieno’s family described him as a selfless person who always cared about justice. He was also a hip-hop artist who wrote songs in five minutes, his relatives said.
The family has roots in Kenya.
Leon Ochieng described his younger brother’s death as a «senseless, inhumane and tragic nightmare».
«Can someone explain to me why my brother is not here right now? Can someone explain to me why my mother can’t sleep, she can’t eat,» Ochieng said. «We are broken. Our hearts are broken.»