7 Va. deputies charged after man is allegedly smothered to death following mental health crisis
03/16/2023 12:43 pm PDT
HENRICO, Va. (TCD) -- Seven Henrico County Sheriff’s Office deputies and three hospital employees are being charged after a 28-year-old man died while being restrained following a mental health crisis.
Charges shared by the Richmond Times-Dispatch show the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney charged Randy Boyer, Dwayne Bramble, Brandon Rogers, Kaiyell Sanders, Jermaine Branch, Bradley Disse, and Tabitha Levere with second-degree murder in connection with the March 6 death of Irvo Otieno.
On March 2, Henrico Police went to Otieno’s home on Haviland Drive after receiving a call about a "suspicious situation." A neighbor on the 8800 block of Fordson Road reportedly telephoned police because he was "concerned about his neighbor’s behavior."
Police spoke with Otieno and his family and did not arrest him.
Then, on Friday, March 3, police were called to the 8800 block of Fordson Road about a woman who believed her home was being broken into. Police identified Otieno as the "potential suspect," and following their conversation, police placed him under an emergency custody order. Members of Henrico County’s Crisis Intervention Team assisted in transporting him to Parham Doctors’ Hospital.
Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouku, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that she called her son’s psychiatrist for help on March 3 because he was experiencing some mental distress. Police showed up at her home, and she reportedly told officers Otieno took lighting fixtures from the neighbor’s yard. Ouku said she told the neighbor she would reimburse her for the fixtures and that her son was in the midst of a mental health crisis.
He had previously been diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder.
According to police, Otieno "became physically assaultive towards officers" at the hospital, and they took him to Henrico County Jail West on charges of assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital, and vandalism.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Otieno did not have access to his medication while in jail over the weekend and could not obtain them until meeting with a physician. Ouko reportedly asked the Henrico District Court judge to let Otieno come home and stabilize with his medication, but the judge denied bail and said he could be transferred to Central State Hospital.
Otieno got to the hospital at just before 4 p.m. on Monday, March 6, and was dead in less than four hours. Otieno’s family reportedly contacted the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner after they learned he died in custody, and an official reportedly said Otieno "fell unconscious and they were not able to revive him."
Henrico County deputies reportedly tried restraining Otieno as he was being admitted to Central State Hospital, but he allegedly started fighting back.
According to The Associated Press, the deputies pinned him to the ground, and he eventually stopped breathing.
WRIC-TV reports Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill said in court that video at Central State Hospital shows "at least a knee inflicted on the body."
Video from the jail reportedly shows Otieno getting punched in the side and torso. He was also reportedly pepper sprayed in his cell.
Baskervill said regarding the footage taken outside the hospital, "At some point, he’s pulled down to the ground or slumps, and then what follows is 12 minutes of him being splayed out on the ground with all seven and then ultimately some Central State people as well on top of him."
Baskervill continued, "No one assisting, no one blocking the others from having their hands on the victim who then died of asphyxiation by smothering."
Central State Hospital employees Darian Blackwell, Wavie Jones, and Sadarius Williams are all being charged with second-degree murder, WRIC reports.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement, "Nearly 3 yrs after the killing of George Floyd, another family is having to grieve a loved one who reportedly died in nearly the exact SAME manner."
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Otieno was a musician and working on creating his own record label.
- Henrico Man Charged; Assault on Law Enforcement at Area Hospital - Henrico Police Department
- 7 Henrico sheriff's deputies charged with murder in death of Central State Hospital patient - Richmond Times-Dispatch
- Mother says 'something went wrong,' seeks answers in son's death at Central State Hospital - Richmond Times-Dispatch
- Dinwiddie County criminal information
- Prosecutor: Black man smothered to death at mental hospital - The Associated Press
- Prosecutor: Videos show Henrico deputies smothered victim, pepper-sprayed him in cell - WRIC
- Three Central State Hospital employees charged with murder in death of Irvo Otieno - WRIC
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