Seven law enforcement officers and three hospital employees are being charged with second-degree murder over the death of a Black man at a mental hospital last week, prosecutors in Virginia told the press.
Irvo Noel Otieno, 28, was admitted into emergency custody in Henrico County, south of Richmond, Virginia, after he was reported for mental health distress, as per the NPR.
“They smothered him to death. He died of asphyxia due to being smothered.”
– The Commonwealth’s Attorney for Dinwiddie County Ann Cabel Baskerville
Otieno spent three days at a local county jail, where according to the family, he was deprived of his medication, pepper sprayed, stripped naked, and humiliated. He was taken to a state-run mental health facility at the Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County.
Mark Krudys, an attorney for the Otieno family, told the media at a press conference on Thursday that Irvo was being pulverized by seven deputies who were pushing down on “every part of his body.” The family, which was shown video footage of the incident, states that the deceased was subjected to “absolute brutality.”
“I was not really prepared to see this,” attorney Krudys said of the video. “You can see that they’re putting their back into it. Every part of his body is being pushed down with absolute brutality. You cannot even see his image many times.”
“It’s just incredibly tragic. And it also evokes a lot of anger with regard to the family as to how their loved one was treated,” Krudys said.
The Commonwealth’s Attorneyfor Dinwiddie County Ann CabelBaskervillesaid that the surveillance footage showed that Irvo was held down by some seven deputies and three staff members of the hospital for 12 minutes. “They smothered him to death,” she said. “He died of asphyxia due to being smothered.”
Baskerville released a statement to the press stating that the state would initiate criminal proceedings against the officers and staff. The prosecutor’s office has filed a criminal information charge against the accused which prevents the need for a grand jury’s vote.
“This legal tactic is for the purpose of protecting other Henrico County jail residents,” she said. “It allows for a justified and immediate removal of these seven individuals from their current capacities.”
The deputies named in the charges are 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 KaiyellDajour Sanders, 30.