HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — An ongoing 2021 civil suit has been revealed to involve one of the seven Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies accused of second-degree murder in connection with the death of inmate Irvo Otieno, 28.
Court documents obtained by 8News show that Deputy Kaiyell Sanders was accused of allowing an inmate to be severely beaten — to the point where he was placed in a medically induced coma — by two cellmates.
Isiah Singleton was awaiting trial for the alleged assault of his pregnant girlfriend at the Henrico County Jail West in August 2019. On the night of Aug. 24, Singleton’s cellmates in Cell 2 of Dayroom 228 — identified as Rodney Goode and John Lawrence Ellis — reportedly violently assaulted him for more than two hours. According to court documents, Singleton was left with “a fractured skull, multiple facial fractures, a broken jaw … broken and dislocated arm(s), cracked ribs, and excessive blood loss.”
Singleton filed the civil suit against various employees of the Henrico Jail two years later, claiming gross negligence, willful and wanton negligence and civil rights violations.
Sanders was working the night of Aug. 24 serving the jail’s third platoon — or, night shift — which involved conducting security checks and other various duties. Court documents indicate that Sanders was assigned to perform headcount and lockdown duties in Dayroom 228 at approximately 11:30 p.m.
According to court documents, the log for the night of Aug. 24 and the early hours of Aug. 25 indicates that security checks were performed every thirty minutes. Sanders was one of the deputies who signed off on these tasks. However, according to the written opinion from Senior U.S. District Judge John Gibney, Jr., “witness testimony and video surveillance show that no Jail personnel entered Dayroom 228 from 11:30 p.m.” on Aug. 24, after lockdown that night, until 3:04 a.m. on Aug. 25, when Singleton was found.
Court documents indicate that surveillance footage did, however, capture “deputies and an occasional inmate walking by.” At least one witness claimed that they saw Sanders “momentarily peer through the gate to Dayroom 228 before walking away.”
Sanders has denied the allegations of negligence and filed a motion to have the case dismissed. That motion was denied. The lawsuit remains ongoing.
The Death of Irvo Otieno
In surveillance video taken from within the Henrico Jail on March 6, Sanders could be seen as one of the deputies who transported Otieno from his cell to the vehicle that would take him to Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County.
Sanders can be seen spraying something into the cell around 2:30 p.m. and a minute later, he is one of the deputies who enters the cell and forces Otieno to the ground. At 2:32 p.m., it appears that punches are thrown by Sanders but it is unclear what — if anything — the punches make contact with.
After transporting Otieno into Central State Hospital, Sanders was also one of the deputies involved in restraining Otieno — who was handcuffed and shackled at the ankles — and apparently pinning him to the ground. After an estimated 12 minutes, Otieno was rendered unconscious, and after more than an hour of attempted lifesaving measures, he was pronounced dead.
Sanders is also one of the deputies who received Crisis Intervention Training — completing 40 hours in August 2021.
“I don’t think I’m in a position where — any of us is in a position — to sort of judge whether or not the CIT training failed these deputies or failed the officers that were at the mental health facility,” said Dana Schrad with the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. “Every situation is unique, and you learn from each different encounter. Unfortunately, you do have situations like this one that ended tragically.”
Sanders, now a sergeant with the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office, received the highest bond amount of the deputies charged with murder in connection with Otieno’s death — $25,000, as compared with $5,000 for Deputy Tabitha Levere. The Dinwiddie County Circuit Court judge presiding over Sanders’ bond hearing cited his alleged level of culpability and seniority in ruling on the amount.