Three former staff members of a mental hospital in Virginia were arrested and charged Thursday with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a man who was brought to the institution from jail earlier this month.
According to Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill, Irvo Otieno, 28, passed away on March 6 while he was being admitted to Central State Hospital in Petersburg about 25 miles south of Richmond. Otieno came to the United States from Kenya with his family at the age of four, and grew up in the Richmond area.
The suspects Darian Blackwell, 23, Wavie Jones, 34, and Sadarius Williams, 27, will later face a grand jury which will decide whether the case against them should proceed.
With the latest round of arrests, there are now 10 people charged with murder in Otieno’s death, including sheriff’s deputies.
On Thursday, the family watched surveillance footage that was taken inside the mental health facility and showed Otieno’s death. Ben Crump, a human rights lawyer for the family, claimed that seven sheriff’s deputies at the mental health facility tied Otieno and suffocated him to death for 12 minutes. Crump is also the lawyer for the family of Tyre Nichols, whose death resulted in five Memphis police officers being charged with second-degree murder.
“What I saw today was heartbreaking, America. It was disturbing, it was traumatic,” Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, said at a press conference with Crump. “I saw the torture.” A preliminary investigation by medical examiners found that Otieno died of asphyxiation. According to the prosecution, Otenio was physically restrained during the intake procedure, and state troopers were told he was “combative.”
Further arrests may still be made, according to authorities. In connection with Otieno’s death, seven Henrico County, Virginia, sheriff’s deputies have also been detained and charged with second-degree murder. Otieno was brought into custody and then transported to a mental health hospital without explanation from authorities. The sheriff’s office is conducting a separate investigation into the incident while the deputies are on administrative leave.