Salem Radio Network News Saturday, September 30, 2023


Video shows Virginia deputies restraining Black man who died at mental hospital

By Brendan O’Brien and Brad Brooks

(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 obtained by the Washington Post 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.

The video 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. Later they brought in a defibrillator machine and attempted to revive him.

The nine minutes of video posted on the Washington Post website was a portion of the 27 minutes of footage that the newspaper obtained through court filings, it said. Baskervill has said she would release the full video this week.

It was unclear from the edited video how long Otieno was held down.

The family, who viewed the surveillance video last week, planned a news conference on Tuesday evening, along with their lawyer, the civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

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.”

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)


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