Yesterday, the harrowing video recording of a 28-year-old African American man’s death at a mental hospital as 10 police and security officers attempted to restrain him sparked outrage on social media. This tragedy has provoked public scrutiny over how authorities handle such delicate situations.
On the 6th of March, two policemen and security personnel were charged with Irvo Otieno’s death in connection to their abuse of US law enforcement authority. This highlighted a systemic problem particularly concerning mental patients’ mistreatment by American Law Enforcement Agents.
Upon his transfer from Henrico County Jail in Richmond, Virginia, to Central Hospital close by in Petersburg, Otieno was kept restrained with handcuffs and shackles.
CCTV footage of the struggle between Kenyan immigrant – Irvo Otieno, police and medics before he died pic.twitter.com/5STIcsvA3h— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) March 22, 2023
The Washington Post recently released a 9-minute video compilation of security footage, totaling 27 minutes in length, capturing the situation from every angle.
Registration and details
Audio recordings of the incident expose seven police officers dragging Otieno, who was only wearing shorts and had no shoes on, into a hospital room on March 6.
Despite Otieno not exhibiting any opposition, the officers continued to pin him down for an extensive period without properly informing him of why they were doing so. One officer even pressed his head or neck while up to ten medical staff silently observed in horror as some attempted to help him out occasionally.
“Why is it when Black people have mental health issues, they aren’t treated as medical issues? They’re treated as criminal issues,” @AttorneyCrump said in response to the death of Irvo Otieno in police custody. https://t.co/x2wbLMyl6O pic.twitter.com/Yif4Bz9s8x— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) March 21, 2023
After a while, his body comes to an abrupt standstill and despite the police officers’ and medics’ attempts at reviving him, they are unsuccessful.
Seven police officers and three hospital staff members – most of whom are also African American – have been accused of second-degree murder in relation to the event.
Three days ago, Otieno was apprehended by the police after experiencing a psychological breakdown. After spending three days in jail, he was taken to the state central hospital… only to never make it out alive.
7 deputies and 3 hospital workers face murder charges in the death of #IrvoOtieno at a Virginia mental hospital. https://t.co/fL4U95kBt4 pic.twitter.com/qPc7FHurQR— Charles T (@ChuckyT3) March 17, 2023
suffocation and death
Last week, Dinwiddie County Prosecutor Ann Cable Baskerville released a statement revealing the initial autopsy results: the young man had passed away from suffocation due to physical restraint. His mother Caroline Oko later stated that her son was grappling with mental illness at the time of his untimely death.
Attorneys for the family of a Black Virginia man, Irvo Otieno, who died in police custody say video of the incident shows seven sheriff’s deputies pushing down “every part of his body” with “absolute brutality.” https://t.co/4QJvpYeNJG pic.twitter.com/zdq0BRvPq0— The Associated Press (@AP) March 17, 2023
The mother sobbed, “My son was treated cruelly; it’s as if he were worse than an animal. I watched in horror as they strangled my child.”
The family recruited the assistance of a prominent attorney, Ben Crump, who has served as an advocate for numerous African Americans and their families victimized by police brutality or wrongful death.
Skilled lawyer Otieno’s case was likened to the brutal killing of George Floyd, an African American whose demise from asphyxiation at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman in 2020 caused global outrage and sparked demonstrations combating racism and police brutality.
Across social media, the activists re-uploaded videos of the incident and voiced their shock regarding what had happened to this young man. All around them were feelings of sorrow and remorse for his family’s heartache, alongside sincere apologies towards law enforcement over the matter.