DINWIDDIE, Va. (WRIC) — Dinwiddie’s top prosecutor is saying seven Henrico Sheriff’s deputies showed cruelty, abuse of power and a disregard for human life following the death of Irvo Otieno — a case that has now gained national attention.

Otieno, 28, was arrested by Henrico Police on March 3. Days later, on March 6, Henrico Sheriff’s deputies took him to Central State, a psychiatric hospital in Dinwiddie. They claimed he became combative and the deputies restrained him. He was later declared dead.

The medical examiner has now ruled Otieno’s death a homicide, saying he died of asphyxiation.

On Tuesday, March 14, the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney announced that seven Henrico deputies had turned themselves in to state police on second-degree murder charges.

The seven deputies appeared in court virtually on Wednesday, March 15.

In court on Wednesday, Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill said the seven deputies waited for 14 minutes in the parking lot before bringing Otieno inside the hospital. She also claims they waited to call state troopers for more than three hours after Otieno’s death, washed the inmate’s handcuffs and lied to troopers about what happened.

Cary Bowen, the attorney for Deputy Jermaine Branch says the use of force was justified. Bowen also stated that the charges are highly unusual and that the commonwealth has taken an “aggressive position.”

“Somebody’s charged with murder, and nobody struck a fatal blow, or shot somebody, or stabbed somebody, any of the normal kinds of violence that would be attended to a murder indictment,” Bowen said.

Baskervill stated that there are two videos involving Otieno and the deputies — one from Central State and another from Henrico Jail, where the deputies worked. The Commonwealth’s Attorney shared details of the videos in court, painting a picture of what happened leading up to the death of Otieno.

“Twelve minutes of him being splayed out on the ground,” Baskervill shared. “You see at least a knee inflicted on the body. There are blows, punches to at least his side, his torso. Very aggressive movements. He was pepper sprayed while he was in the cell alone … It’s just cruel and a demonstration of power that is unlawful — I mean, it killed him. They smothered him.”

“This was totally, totally, unnecessary,” Mark Krudys, the Otieno family’s attorney, added.

On Wednesday, defense attorneys argued that the use of force was necessary because Otieno was combative. But Baskerville and Krudys call the force an abuse of power.

“That is a word that can just be thrown out by somebody at the scene,” Krudys told 8News. “It’s not really confirmable. It’s their own subjective statement. And it’s truly irrelevant when he’s handcuffed and in leg arms.”

According to Krudys, the Otieno family has yet to see the video for themselves, but they want Otieno’s legacy to bring about change.

“We want to ensure that this never happens again,” Krudys said.

The family is also now partnering with noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.