Video shows Virginia deputies restraining Black man who died at mental hospital
Updates with grand jury indicting the 10 people charged in Otieno's death, adds quotes from press conference
By Brendan O'Brien and Brad Brooks
March 21 (Reuters) -Virginia sheriff deputies and medical staffers wrestled with a handcuffed Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man, for several minutes at a state mental hospital before he died, video surveillance shows.
The altercation took place on March 6 as Otieno was being admitted to Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, according to Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill.
Otieno's death, which has captured national attention, is the latest example of a Black man dying during a violent encounter with law enforcement.
Police have arrested and charged three former employees of the mental health hospital and seven sheriffs deputies of Henrico County, Virginia, with second-degree murder in Otieno's death. Most of the deputies and hospital employees involved in the case are also Black. A grand jury on Tuesday formally indicted the ten people charged.
The video, a download link of which was made available in court documents, shows about six officers carrying Otieno into a room. He appeared to struggle as he was put on the ground. At times as many as 10 deputies and hospital workers held him down while his legs were shackled and his arms were held behind his back. Another six deputies and medical staffers were in the room watching the encounter.
Later the video shows Otieno slumped over and motionless. Officers turned him over and began chest compressions. They brought in a defibrillator machine and attempted to revive him. When it is clear Otieno was dead, a lone healthcare worker draped a white sheet over his lifeless body.
The family, who viewed the surveillance video last week, said during a Tuesday evening press conference with their attorney, the civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, that a mental health crisis should not be a "death penalty."
"Ivor was my baby. He was special, he was caring, he was loving," said Caroline Ouko, Ivor's mother. "Those ten monsters, those ten criminals, I was happy to hear they were indicted. But that is just the beginning step. We will achieve justice for Ivor."
A preliminary report by medical examiners said Otieno, who immigrated to the U.S. from Kenya when he was four years old, died of asphyxiation. Prosecutors say they were told he was restrained during the intake process because he was "combative."
But Crump said the video clearly showed Otieno in handcuffs and leg shackles, and questioned why it was necessary for multiple officers to smother him as he was already restrained.
Officials have not ruled out making more charges or arrests.
Authorities have not said why Otieno was taken into custody or why he was being transferred to the mental health facility, which is located about 25 miles (40 km) south of Richmond.
The deputies were placed on administrative leave and the Henrico County sheriff's office is conducting an independent investigation into the incident. The department did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Otieno's death comes after the high-profile police brutality case in January involving some Memphis police officers, who beat Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop. Nichols died after enduring punches and kicks.
Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago and Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Josie Kao and Chris Reese
Disclaimer: The XM Group entities provide execution-only service and access to our Online Trading Facility, permitting a person to view and/or use the content available on or via the website, is not intended to change or expand on this, nor does it change or expand on this. Such access and use are always subject to: (i) Terms and Conditions; (ii) Risk Warnings; and (iii) Full Disclaimer. Such content is therefore provided as no more than general information. Particularly, please be aware that the contents of our Online Trading Facility are neither a solicitation, nor an offer to enter any transactions on the financial markets. Trading on any financial market involves a significant level of risk to your capital.
All material published on our Online Trading Facility is intended for educational/informational purposes only, and does not contain – nor should it be considered as containing – financial, investment tax or trading advice and recommendations; or a record of our trading prices; or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instruments; or unsolicited financial promotions to you.
Any third-party content, as well as content prepared by XM, such as: opinions, news, research, analyses, prices and other information or links to third-party sites contained on this website are provided on an “as-is” basis, as general market commentary, and do not constitute investment advice. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, it would be considered as marketing communication under the relevant laws and regulations. Please ensure that you have read and understood our Notification on Non-Independent Investment. Research and Risk Warning concerning the foregoing information, which can be accessed here.