RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The family of Irvo Otieno has reached a wrongful death settlement with Virginia, Henrico and the county’s sheriff, their attorneys announced Wednesday.
Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man, died in March after he was pinned down by seven Henrico sheriff’s deputies and three Central State Hospital workers while being admitted to the psychiatric hospital.
The state medical examiner’s office ruled Otieno’s death a homicide after concluding he died of “positional and mechanical asphyxia with restraints.” Ten people were initially charged in his death, but charges were eventually dropped against two hospital workers.
The attorneys for Otieno’s brother and mother — the prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Mark Krudys — announced Wednesday that a Henrico Circuit Court judge approved a settlement in Otieno’s death.
The state, Henrico and the county’s sheriff agreed to pay Otieno’s family a total of $8.5 million, first reported by The Associated Press, but did not admit any liability in his death.
“The family is pleased that they were able to find a resolution outside of court in a manner that honors Irvo’s life,” Crump and Krudys said in a statement.
Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor told 8News she did not have a comment on the settlement “as there are pending charges in Dinwiddie and the pending investigation in Henrico.”
The Henrico County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for Gov. Glenn Youngkin, described Otieno’s death as a “profound tragedy,” saying in a statement that the governor “pushed” for the settlement “with the hope that doing so proactively and fairly might alleviate – in a small way – some of the suffering that Irvo’s mother and brother faced, recognizing that no settlement can take the place of a loved one.”
“Governor Youngkin remains committed to transforming the behavioral health system to ensure that those in crisis will receive the care they need and that they will receive it at the right time and in the right place,” Porter added.
Seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three Central State Hospital personnel were initially charged with second-degree murder in Otieno’s death — but charges were ultimately dropped against two of the hospital workers.
Surveillance video obtained and reviewed by 8News, which does not include sound, shows as many as 10 sheriff’s deputies and personnel at Virginia’s Central State Hospital pinning a handcuffed and shackled Otieno to the ground for over 11 minutes until he’s motionless.
The footage, obtained through a Dropbox link in public court records, shows Otieno being dragged into the psychiatric hospital at 4:19 p.m. on March 6, being restrained and pressed to the floor in a hospital admissions room and unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him after his body goes limp.
Police placed Otieno under an emergency custody order on March 3, three days before he died at Central State Hospital, following a reported burglary. Otieno’s family said he had a history of mental health struggles and that he was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.
Before Otieno was transported to Central State Hospital, his family’s attorneys say he was taken from Parham Doctors’ Hospital to Henrico Jail West, claiming he was restrained for more than 11 hours in a chair, not given medication and was “severely beaten by Henrico County deputies.”