#Video shows Virginia deputies and medical workers appearing to pile on top of him before his death

Video shows Virginia deputies and medical workers appearing to pile on top of him before his death

Video capturing some of the final moments in the life of Irvo Otieno — whose death led to murder charges against seven Virginia sheriff’s deputies and three hospital workers — shows several officers and medical staff appearing to pile on top of the 28-year-old Black man before he eventually stops moving.

The surveillance video of the March 6 incident at Virginia’s Central State Hospital shows several officers dragging Otieno, who appears to be handcuffed and shackled at the ankles, into an admissions room, initially moving him toward a table before eventually laying him down and restraining him on the ground.

At one point, as many as 10 sheriff’s deputies and medical staff at the hospital can be seen crowded around the Virginia man on the floor as several others stand nearby. The scene is so crowded that Otieno can hardly be seen at that point and it is unclear what exactly is happening or how deputies and medical workers are engaging with him.

Otieno was restrained for around 11 minutes before he could be seen not moving, according to The Washington Post, which obtained video of the altercation and published nine minutes of that footage. NBC News was not immediately able to obtain the video, which has no sound, and it is unclear how it was edited.

Minutes after deputies release Otieno’s limp body at around 4:40 p.m., workers can be seen applying chest compressions and a defibrillator machine to his upper body before a medical technician drapes a white sheet over him at 5:48 p.m., according to time stamps accompanying the footage published by the Post.

Irvo Otieno, right, with his mother and brother in an undated photo. Ben Crump Law / AFP – Getty Images

It is unclear what was said during the encounter since the video has no audio. Prosecutors have said that state police investigators were told Otieno had become combative during admission.

The video was due to be released Tuesday, but attorneys for two of the defendants had sought to block its publication, arguing it could influence the pool of potential jurors and interfere with the defendants receiving a fair trial.

After Otieno’s family and their attorneys were shown footage of the encounter last week, Caroline Ouko said her son was “treated like a dog, worse than a dog.”

“He was murdered. They smothered the breath out of my baby. They murdered my baby,” she said.

“What we just viewed … was commentary on 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,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump told reporters.

“You can see that they’re putting their back into it. Every part of his body is being pushed down with absolute brutality,” said Mark Krudys, an attorney for Otieno’s family.

Four of the deputies weighed at least 250 pounds each, with the heaviest weighing 320 pounds, according to court documents.

Last week, a Virginia prosecutor charged seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three staff members at the hospital with second-degree murder over the March 6 encounter.

Randy Joseph Boyer, Dwayne Alan Bramble, Jermaine Lavar Branch, Bradley Thomas Disse, Tabitha Renee Levere, Brandon Edwards Rodgers and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders were charged, the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said. An attorney for Levere was not listed online.

An attorney for Sadarius Williams, one of the hospital workers charged in the case, said in a Tuesday statement that her client is innocent.

Williams, 27, of North Dinwiddie, “did not commit second-degree murder, as the Commonwealth alleges. There will be no evidence that Mr. Williams acted with malice, or that he in any way intended or caused Mr. Otieno’s death. Mr. Williams had only minimal physical contact with Mr. Otieno and did not apply any lethal force during the incident. Mr. Williams looks forward to his day in court when he will be able to fully address the charge against him,” Rhonda Quagliana said in the statement.

Attorneys listed for the rest of the defendants did not immediately respond to overnight requests for comment.

Disse’s attorney, Edward K. Nickel, previously said that his client was looking forward to defending himself. “The charges were initiated by criminal information, an extraordinarily unusual method of initiating paperwork for arrest in Virginia,” he said. “However, the ultimate charges, if any, that our client will face will be determined at the grand jury next Tuesday.”

Cary Bowen, who represents Branch, said his client has been with the department for 24 years and that “none of them are known as bullies.”

The prosecutor’s office said deputies had taken Otieno to the hospital at around 3:58 p.m. to be admitted. Instead, “he died of asphyxia due to being smothered to death, thanks to having at least seven people, including the defendant, on top of him and holding him down,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said at a court hearing Wednesday, according to courtroom video broadcast by NBC affiliate WWBT of Richmond.

Otieno had initially been arrested March 3 after Henrico police officers responded to a possible burglary call, the police department previously said in a news release.

Officers placed Otieno under an “emergency custody order,” the department said, with Virginia law stating that such orders are used in cases of mental illness.

Officers then took Otieno to Parham Doctors’ Hospital, where a crisis receiving center was located and the police department said Otieno “became physically assaultive towards officers” at the facility. He was taken to a local jail, which is managed by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office, where he was served with several charges, including three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism.

The police department said officers had also responded to another incident the day before, on March 2, for a “reported suspicious situation” in which the complainant said he was concerned about his neighbor’s behavior. The neighbor was identified as Otieno, police said. The call was reclassified as a “mental health problem” and no charges were placed, it said.

State police were called to investigate Otieno’s death at around 7:30 p.m. March 6, days after the initial arrest.

Baskervill had said she was planning to release video of the encounter that unfolded before Otieno’s death to the public Tuesday. The Post obtained the video ahead of the release through Dropbox links, which the outlet said Baskervill had listed in a public court filing.

The Henrico County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment.

Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory said in a statement the office was “cooperating fully with the investigation of the Virginia State Police.”

“Separately, we are conducting our own independent review of this incident,” the statement said.

Otieno’s family, which has roots in Kenya, has said he was a selfless person who cared about fairness. He was also a hip-hop artist who could write songs in five minutes, his relatives said.

Leon Ochieng, his brother, described his younger sibling’s death as a “tragic, senseless, inhumane nightmare.”

“Can someone explain to me why my brother is not here right now? Someone explain to me why my mother can’t sleep, can’t eat,” he said. “We are broken. Our hearts are broken.”

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