DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Dinwiddie County’s top prosecutor told 8News on Sunday that she tentatively plans to release publicly surveillance video from Central State Hospital — showing the death of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno and his interaction with deputies and hospital staff who have been charged in his murder — on Tuesday.
The surveillance video was mentioned during seven Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies’ first appearance in Dinwiddie County Circuit Court on second-degree murder charges for Otieno’s death earlier this month.
“There is video footage of exactly what happened, and he was not agitated or combative. He was held down on the ground, thrown on the ground for 12 minutes,” Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said in court. “Thanks to having at least seven people, including the defendant [Jermaine Branch], on top of him and holding him down, where he suffocated as a result of that pressure, and his mental health, it created this horrible, deadly chain reaction.”
Baskervill noted that the Medical Examiner had ruled the preliminary cause of death was asphyxiation or suffocation, and that the manner was homicide.
On March 2, at approximately 4:03 p.m., Henrico Police responded to the 2200 block of Haviland Drive, between Fordson and Overhill Roads, for a reported suspicious situation, according to a release from police. Authorities said that the complainant told officers that he was concerned about his neighbor’s behavior. The neighbor was later identified as Otieno. Police said that the call was reclassified as a mental health problem after speaking with Otieno and a family member. No charges were filed as a result of this call for service.
However, the following day, on March 3, at approximately 11:34 a.m., Henrico Police said they responded to the same neighborhood — this time to the 8800 block of Fordson Road, off of Haviland Drive. According to a release, a breaking and entering had been reported. Once on scene, officers said they spoke with the complainant, who believed her home was being burglarized. Authorities on scene reportedly identified and approached Otieno as a potential suspect.
“Based on their interaction and observation of Otieno, HCPD [Henrico County Police Division] officers placed him under an emergency custody order (ECO),” spokesperson Lieutenant M.C. Pecka said in a release. “Members of Henrico County’s Crisis Intervention Team were on the scene to assist the officers.”
According to a release, Henrico officers took Otieno to the Crisis Receiving Center at Parham Doctors’ Hospital, a campus of Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. However, Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, clarified Thursday that her son was taken to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.
While there, authorities said that Otieno “became physically assaultive towards officers.” He was then arrested and taken to Henrico County Jail West, where he was charged with three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism.
“Every single family in America, you are dealing with mental illness,” Otieno’s older brother, Leon Ochieng, said Thursday. “You should not wake up and feel sick and consider whether or not you should call for help. You should have confidence and knowing that the local station, the local police, the local government is working to make sure that the care that you receive from the minute that they deal with you is, at most, focused on preserving your life, but not ending it.”
Three days later, on March 6, Otieno died at Central State Hospital. According to a release from the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the hospital at approximately 3:58 p.m. to admit Otieno as a patient.
“State Police investigators were told he had become combative during the admission process,” the release said. “Otieno, who was physically restrained, died during the intake process. His body was transported to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for examination and autopsy.”
At 7:28 p.m. on March 6, the Commonwealth’s Attorney said that Virginia State Police were called to investigate the death.
“He has leg irons on. He has handcuffs on. He poses no threat. He’s face down,” attorney Mark Krudys, representing Otieno’s family, said Thursday. “It’s really difficult to actually see him because throughout the duration, there are officers over every single part of him pushing down hard, relentlessly, unyieldingly, for the duration of 11 minutes.”
In court the day before, defense attorney Cary Bowen, representing Deputy Jermaine Branch, said that he had not seen the surveillance video, but that it was his understanding that hospital staff ultimately gave Otieno two injections, after which point he became unresponsive. But Baskervill argued in court that the 28-year-old was already unresponsive before the injections were administered because deputies had “smothered him to death.”
On Sunday, defense attorney Edward Nickel told 8News that the surveillance video from Central State Hospital “has not been provided to the defense and we have not been permitted to see it.” Nickel, along with attorney Peter Baruch, are representing Deputy Bradley Disse, who was visibly emotional in court on Wednesday.
Defense attorney Doug Ramseur, representing Wavie Jones, along with attorney Emilee Hasbrouck, said that he did not have any comment on the matter.
“My son was treated like a dog — worse than a dog,” Ouko said. “I saw it with my own eyes on the video.”
Baskervill told 8News on Sunday that she planned to release the hospital surveillance video to defense attorneys on Tuesday.