7 VA Deputies, 3 Hospital Workers Facing Second-Degree Murder Charges in Death of Psychiatric Patient
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Seven sheriff's deputies and three hospital workers in Virginia are facing second-degree murder charges after the death of a man who was in their charge.
The murder charges stem from the death of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno at a psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, on March 6.
Prosecutors in the case released surveillance video of the incident Tuesday. It shows the deputies bringing a handcuffed and shackled Otieno into the Central State Hospital admissions area. A 20-minute struggle follows with deputies and hospital staff seen on top of the victim as they try to restrain him.
When Otieno went unconscious, medical workers tried to revive him with no success.
The chief medical officer later determined he was smothered to death.
"He certainly did not deserve to be smothered to death, which is what happened," Dinwiddie Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said in court Tuesday. The workers were holding him down "from his braids down to his toes," she said.
By the 4:39 p.m. timestamp, someone is taking Otieno's pulse and he appears unresponsive. Soon after, as Otieno's body lies still, someone appears to administer two injections. By 4:42 p.m., CPR appears to be underway. Life-saving efforts seem to go on for nearly an hour. At 5:48 p.m., Otieno's body is draped with a white sheet.
Otieno's family said he was brutally mistreated, both at the state hospital and while in law enforcement custody in the preceding days.
"Those ten monsters, those ten criminals, I was happy to hear that they were indicted and that is just the beginning step," said Caroline Ouko, Otieno's mother, at a news conference Tuesday evening, vowing to fight for justice for her son.
The family says Otieno battled mental health issues.
His mother reportedly tried to get him medical help after police were called when he allegedly took some items from a neighbor's home.
Final autopsy findings have not yet been released, though Baskervill has said multiple times that Otieno died of asphyxiation. Defense attorneys have raised the possibility that the injections contributed to his death, though Baskervill disputed that Tuesday, saying he was already dead when the shots were administered.
Attorneys for the defendants have vowed to '"vigorously" fight the charges.
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