The mother of Irvo Otieno, a man whoat a state psychiatric hospital, spoke about her son’s “inhumane death” at a news conference on Thursday after viewing surveillance video of the incident. The conference was held on the same day it was announced three employees of the hospital had been arrested in relation to Otieno’s death.
Otieno, 28, was being transported from the Henrico County jail to the psychiatric facility by Henrico County Sheriff’s Office deputies on March 6 when, investigators were told, he became combative during the admission process. Otieno was restrained and died during the intake process, Virginia State Police officers were initially told when they arrived to investigate Otieno’s death.
But the surveillance video tells a different story, his family said Thursday after viewing the video with attorneys Benjamin Crump and Mark Krudys. “My son was tortured,” Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, said, adding that the deputies were on top of Otieno until “he took his last breath.”
His family said that Otieno struggled with mental health issues, but he had a “big heart” and was a “great listener.”
“Irvo is as American as apple pie,” said his mother, who shared the family’s journey of moving from Kenya to the United States when Otieno was four-years-old. He attended Freeman High School and then attended college in California, and was an aspiring hip-hop artist, his family said.
“Mental illness should not be your ticket to death,” Ouko said.
The video, which has not been released publicly, is a central piece of evidence in the case that has seen arrests of 10 people in connection with Otieno’s death.
“A key element of that evidence is the surveillance video from Central State Hospital that captures the intake process,” said Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said Thursday in a statement.
Baskerville also announced that three Central State Hospital employees were arrested Thursday and facing charges of second-degree murder. Darian M. Blackwell, 23, of Petersburg, Wavie L. Jones, 34, of Chesterfield, and Sadarius D. Williams, 27, of North Dinwiddie were being held in Meherrin River Regional Jail in Brunswick County without bond, jail records show.
Seven Henrico County deputieson Tuesday, court records showed.
The Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) preliminary report identifies asphyxiation as a cause of death, the statement said. A Dinwiddie County grand jury will meet next week for a final determination of charges, the statement said.
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