Editor’s Note: This story contains detailed descriptions of violence.
Video footage from a Virginia psychiatric facility shows seven deputies and three hospital employees pile on a shackled 28-year-old black man for about 11 minutes until he stops moving. Washington Post reports.
Also on Tuesday, a grand jury returned indictments for second-degree murder against 10 people charged last week in the death of Irvo Otieno on March 6.
Mail posted a 9-minute clip of the video on Tuesday morning, ahead of its scheduled release. The newspaper says it obtained the tape by clicking on links from the prosecutor’s open lawsuit in the case.
A disturbing video shows Henrico County sheriff’s deputies dragging Otieno, handcuffed and shirtless, into a nearly empty room at Central State Hospital with a few small tables and placing him on some seat with a 4:19 p.m. time stamp. It then shortens to 4:26 p.m. when the assistants place Otieno on the floor and begin to pile on top of him.
At one point, a total of 10 people – deputies and hospital staff – can be seen covering and pressing his entire body, while several others stand over them and watch. They gradually get up and roll over Otieno’s visibly limp body at 4:39 pm when a worker comes over to give him an injection.
Rescue work, including CPR and defibrillation, began within minutes and lasted less than an hour: Mail reports that a medical technician covered Otieno with a white sheet at 5:48 pm.
Otieno had been taken into custody three days earlier when he suffered a mental breakdown near his home in Henrico County, south of Richmond, Virginia.
Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney Ann Cabell Baskerville said in two separate statements last week that 10 people were arrested after she filed a criminal charge for providing information, a relatively rare move that launches a criminal case without the need for a grand jury vote.
She said at the time that she did this to protect people in prison who would otherwise come into contact with these law enforcement officials, and that the case would go to a grand jury next week “to finally determine future charges.” .”
State law still requires a case to go to a grand jury before it can go to trial, reports Virginia Public Media.
The following deputies were each charged with one count of first-degree murder: Randy Joseph Boyer, 57; Duane Alan Bramble, 37; Jermaine LaVar Branch, 45; Bradley Thomas Diess, 43; Tabitha Rene Levere, 50; Brandon Edwards Rogers, 48; and Kayell Dajour Sanders, 30.
Hospital staff Darian M. Blackwell, 23; Wavey L. Jones, 34, and Sadarius D. Williams, 27, face the same charges.
The grand jury convened on Tuesday morning, hours before the scheduled public release of the hospital surveillance footage of Otieno’s murder.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Monday he plans to watch the video and urged the public to be patient as well as reform the mental health system.
“There is a lawsuit underway and we must fully respect it, and I ask everyone to fully respect it,” Yongkin said. “We can also just see the heartbreaking nature of the problems in our mental health system.”
Otieno’s lawyers, Mark Kradis and Ben Crump, described his death as the culmination of a “continuum of abuse” he faced after being taken into custody on March 3 during an episode of mental breakdown.
Police briefly rushed Otieno to a local hospital but transferred him to prison after they said he “became physically aggressive” – though his family said he was relaxed, even asleep at one point, and his lawyers are wondering question why he was not allowed. stay in the hospital for 72 hours.
Otieno then spent three days in prison, where, according to his lawyers, he was sprayed with pepper spray (and he could not wash his eyes because he was handcuffed) and deprived of medicine, which his mother tried repeatedly but unsuccessfully to get him in the hospital.
The video is said to show deputies aggressively entering Otieno’s small cell, where he sits naked with feces on the floor, and carry him out by the arms and legs. He was taken in a heavy police presence to the Central State Hospital, a government inpatient psychiatric facility about 50 miles away.
Henrico County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the hospital at 3:58 p.m. to admit Otieno as a patient, the prosecutor said. His lawyers, who have seen surveillance video from inside the hospital, say he was physically shackled – with handcuffs and leg irons – and appeared “almost lifeless” upon entering the ward.
Deputies later told state police that Otieno became “aggressive during the admissions process,” which his lawyers and family members say is denied by a video they viewed last Thursday, according to a prosecutor’s office statement.
It shows deputies pushing Otieno to the floor and leaning on him for more than 11 minutes.
Crudis said no one in the crowded room intervened, and that they waited a considerable amount of time before beginning rescue efforts and eventually calling the Virginia State Police, who arrived on the scene more than three hours later at 7:28 p.m. .
According to Baskerville, Otieno “died of asphyxiation from having been strangled”. She later testified in court that between his death and a call to the state police, his body was moved, the handcuffs removed and washed, and a funeral home was called instead of a medical examiner’s office, according to ABC News.
She also claimed that none of the deputies “made truthful statements to the State Police either that night or… during the arrest”.
Ben Crump Low/AP
Defense lawyers tried to block the publication of the video
Crump said at a press conference last week that the video contradicted the deputies’ testimony and provided “clear evidence of how they treated this young man, who posed no threat to them.”
The CCTV video does not include audio, and Crump said there were no footage from body-worn police cameras in the room.
“My son was treated like a dog – worse than a dog – I saw it with my own eyes on video,” Caroline Ouko said. “He was treated inhumanly and it was traumatic and systematic.”
Defense lawyers tried to block the video’s release through court documents filed on Monday, arguing that it could sway potential jurors and prevent the defendants from getting a fair trial. Washington Post reports. Lawyers for two deputies declared that their clients are innocent, he adds.