Newly released video footage shows the final moments of the life of Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man who prosecutors say was smothered to death by Virginia deputies and workers at a mental hospital.
In video obtained by the Washington Post, several officers can be seen dragging Otieno into an admission room at Virginia's Central State Hospital in handcuffs and leg irons. While restraining Otieno, officers and medical staff piled on top of him for around 11 minutes before his body went limp, video of the March 6 incident shows.
Minutes after Otieno's body stopped moving, workers can be seen applying chest compressions and using a defibrillator machine before a medical technician drapes a white sheet over him.
The video has no audio, so it is unclear what was said during the fatal encounter. It is also unclear how the video was edited. The Washington Post obtained the video through DropBox links in public court filings ahead of its expected release on Tuesday (March 21).
Seven Henrico County sheriff's deputies and three hospital workers were charged last week with second-degree murder in Otieno's death.
According to police, Otieno was initially arrested on suspicion of burglary and assaulting a law enforcement officer. Officers took Otieno to a local jail managed by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office and placed him under an “emergency custody order,” which is used in Virginia for cases of mental illness.
Days later, Henrico County sheriff’s office employees were transferring him to Central State Hospital when state police were called to investigate his death. According to state police investigators, Otieno became combative during the intake process at Central State Hospital.
Otieno's brother, Leon Ochieng, described his 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.”
See the video here.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE.