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VIDEO: Virginia Psych Hospital Footage Shows Deputies Holding Inmate Down For 12 Minutes Before He Died

Dinwiddie, VA – Dinwiddie County prosecutors have released security footage that showed an aggressive inmate being pinned to the ground inside Central State Hospital prior to his death on March 6.

Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill alleged in court on March 15 that security footage showed the deputies holding 28-year-old aspiring hip-hop artist Irvo Otieno down on the ground inside the psychiatric facility for 12 minutes before he died, WRIC reported.

According to Baskervill, the medical examiner has preliminary determined Otieno died of asphyxiation and said she believed his death was a homicide.

Seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three hospital employees are now facing second-degree murder charges in connection with the incident, CNN reported.

“They smothered him to death,” Baskervill told the court during a hearing last week, according to CNN. “He died of asphyxia due to being smothered.”

She released the security video and 911 audio recordings related to the incident on March 21.

According to Virginia State Police (VSP), Otieno was transported to Central State Hospital by Henrico County deputies shortly before 4 p.m. on March 6, WRIC reported.

VSP said Otieno became combative during the admission process.

The video showed the handcuffed inmate being escorted into a large room inside the hospital by several deputies and hospital workers.

The deputies appeared to be struggling maintain control of Otieno and they ultimately laid him face-down onto the floor.

The effort to subdue him continued for several more minutes before deputies appeared to lose their grip on him, CBS News reported.

The deputies rolled Otieno over and additional deputies and hospital personnel came in to assist them in pinning him to the floor, the video showed.

He was held down for approximately 11 minutes before he became unresponsive, CBS News reported.

Medical workers then began CPR.

A hospital worker called 911 for emergency medical assistance at 4:40 p.m., according to CNN.

“The patient is a new admission, so we’re still in the admission unit, and then he’s very aggressive,” the employee said in the 911 recording. “They’re doing CPR right now.”

“I’m sorry, is the patient aggressive or is he not breathing?” the dispatcher asked.

“He used to be aggressive, right, so they’re trying to put him in a restraint, then eventually he is no longer breathing,” the hospital worker clarified, according to CNN.

Another 911 call from a frantic hospital employee came in at 5:02 p.m.

The worker said they called for “emergency” medical help “at least 15 minutes ago,” but that no one had shown up, CNN reported.

“You said they were en route the last time,” the worker said. “I mean, how far were they coming from?”

The dispatcher assured her EMS was responding as quickly as possible, CNN reported.

“This is just totally unacceptable, and y’all know it too,” the hospital employee responded. “Totally unacceptable.”

Hospital staff worked to resuscitate Otieno for nearly an hour before he was ultimately pronounced dead, according to CNN.

“My son was treated like a dog! Worse than a dog!” Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, said during a press conference after watching the footage. “I saw it with my own eyes on the video.”

Ouko said the “heartbreaking” footage showed her son being “tortured” by deputies, CNN reported.

“Mental illness should not be your ticket to death,” she said. “They murdered my baby.”

Baskervill said Otieno was “distressed” during the scuffle and denied reports from deputies and hospital staff who said he was being assaultive and combative, CNN reported.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” the prosecutor said of the footage.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Otieno’s family, said the incident illustrates “how inhumane law enforcement officials treat people who are having a mental health crisis as criminals rather than treating them as people who are in need of help,” CNN reported.

Crump said the security footage proved Otieno did not do anything wrong during the incident.

“He, in the videos, [is] never confrontational with them. He is not posing a threat to them. He’s not violent or aggressive with them,” Crump declared, according to CNN. “You see in the video he is restrained with handcuffs, he has leg irons on, and you see in the majority of the video that he seems to be in between lifelessness and unconsciousness, but yet you see him being restrained so brutally with a knee on his neck.”

Baskervill announced the charges against the seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies on March 14.

They have been identified as 30-year-old Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 48-year-old Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 50-year-old Tabitha Renee Levere, 43-year-old Bradley Thomas Disse, 45-year-old Jermaine Lavar Branch, 37-year-old Dwayne Alan Bramble, and 57-year-old Randy Joseph Boyer, WRIC reported.

They all turned themselves in to VSP the day the charges were announced, according to CNN.

Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory released a statement after the deputies’ arrests.

“As Henrico County sheriff and on behalf of our entire office, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Irvo Otieno,” Sheriff Gregory wrote, according to WRIC. “The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Mr. Otieno’s life was lost. This loss is felt by not only those close to him but our entire community.”

The sheriff confirmed that the deputies involved in the case have all been placed on administrative leave.

“As an office, we are cooperating fully with the investigation of the Virginia State Police. Separately, we are conducting our own independent review of this incident,” Sheriff Gregory said. “Public safety is what we stand for as a Sheriff’s Office. We will continue to maintain the highest professional standards in how we serve and protect those in our custody, the community-at-large and our staff.”

The Henrico Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 4 released a statement in support of the deputies shortly after the charges were filed.

“Policing in America today is difficult, made even more so by the possibility of being criminally charged while performing their duty,” the FOP said. “The death of Mr. Otieno was tragic, and we express our condolences to his family. We also stand behind the seven accused deputies now charged with murder by the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill.”

The FOP pointed out that the seven deputies “were not charged using warrants or indictments, but through a rarely-used process called an ‘information’ that allows for little outside scrutiny from impartial judges or magistrates.”

“From news reports it appears that the Virginia State Police have not completed their investigation of the death, and the Medical Examiner has not released a cause or manner of death,” the organization added. “With these things in mind, and cognizant of every accused’s presumption of innocence, we support our Brothers and Sisters, and hope for a quick resolution that clears their names.”

Three hospital workers were arrested on second-degree murder charges on March 16 in connection with the incident, CNN reported.

They have been identified as 23-year-old Darian Blackwell, 34-year-old Wavie Jones, and 27-year-old Sadarius Williams.

The series of events preceding Otieno’s death began on March 3, when the Henrico County Police Division (HCPD) received a report of a possible burglary, WRC reported.

Deputies responded to the scene and made contact with Otieno.

“Based on their interaction and observation of Otieno, HCPD officers placed him under an emergency custody order,” the HCPD said in a press release on March 10. “Members of Henrico County’s Crisis Intervention Team were on scene to assist the officers.”

Otieno was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

While at the hospital, the suspect allegedly “became physically assaultive towards the officers” and was subsequently arrested and transported to the Henrico County Jail West Warrant Services Unit on charges of disorderly conduct in a hospital, vandalism, and three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, the HCPD said.

The jail facility is managed by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

Baskervill said HCSO deputies transported Otieno to Central State Hospital shortly before 4 p.m. on March 6, WRC reported.

Deputies said Otieno became “combative during the admission process” at the state-run psychiatric facility, according to the prosecutor.

The VSP was called to investigate the inmate’s death at 7:28 p.m.

Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content:

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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