Commonwealth’s attorney says video of Henrico deputies is disturbing

7 deputies face second-degree murder charges
Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill is defending criminal charges she filed against seven Henrico Sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 11:05 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:51 PM EDT
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DINWIDDIE, Va. (WWBT) - At a court hearing Wednesday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann C. Baskervill says surveillance video of Henrico County deputies and a man who died during an intake process is extremely clear and alarming.

On March 6, Henrico County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived at Central State Hospital just before 4 p.m. to admit 28-year-old Ivor N. Otieno, of Henrico, as a patient. Before 7:30 p.m., state police were called to investigate Otieno’s death.

The seven deputies that appeared via video chat after being charged with second-degree murder are:

  • Randy Joseph Boyer, 57, of Henrico
  • Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37, of Sandston
  • Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45, of Henrico
  • Bradley Thomas Disse, 43, of Henrico
  • Tabitha Renee Levere, 50, of Henrico
  • Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48, of Henrico
  • Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30, of North Chesterfield

Baskervill says only two deputies transferred Otieno. Additional deputies were dispatched to the scene.

In the footage, Baskervill says you can see deputies throw a shirtless, 28-year-old Irvo Otieno to the ground during the in-take process at the hospital.

She says the video shows him primarily face-down and handcuffed on the ground. At one point, Baskervill says an unidentified deputy has their knee on his body.

Baskervill says deputies smothered Otieno for 12 minutes, causing him to suffocate to death.

She says Otieno’s preliminary cause of death was asphyxiation. Baskervill says the State Medical Examiner has not reviewed the two surveillance videos.

“He died from asphyxia due to being smothered to death, thanks to seven people, including the defendant, on top of him, holding him down,” Baskervill said in the courtroom.

Baskervill says deputies removed Otieno’s handcuffs and didn’t call Virginia State Police until three hours after his death.

Among those allegations, she also adds video shows deputies pepper-spraying and punching Otieno at the Henrico Jail before he’s transported.

Defense Attorney for Deputy Jermaine Branch Cary Bowen says he has not seen any of those videos.

“Our client has been there for 24 years, and I know the Sheriff is anxiously watching this to see what’s happening,” Bowen said. “Her position, I believe, is still that they were doing the job, doing the best they could. None of them are known as bullies, so I’m curious to see the video the commonwealth attorney has looked at.”

He also claims Otieno was known for having a history of mental-health-related issues.

Bowen also says some deputies believe two injections contributed to Otieno’s death, although Baskervill argued in court that Otieno died before the injections even made it into his system.

He adds the prosecutor’s rush to action feels premature.

“The Commonwealth Attorney has taken a very aggressive position here, and it’s pretty unusual to go about things the way it’s been done,” Bowen said. There was no judicial involvement until this morning, although they did see the magistrate last night. All of the defendants did when they were brought to the jail.”

NBC12 Legal Analyst Stephen Benjamin says these charges brought on by Baskervill this early are unusual.

“Prosecutors don’t charge law enforcement officers with serious crimes, and especially murder, lightly, and they shouldn’t. Prosecutors will typically take a very deliberate and careful approach in making these charging decisions, and most often, they will want to involve a grand jury,” Benjamin said.

The judge granted 45-year-old Jermaine Lavar Branch of Henrico a $15,000 bond.

The judge also granted 43-year-old Bradley Thomas Disse of Henrico a $10,000 bond.

The five remaining deputies are being held until they arrange court-appointed attorneys or legal counsel.

The defendants will appear back in court on Tuesday, March 21.

Mark Krudys, an attorney for the family, released this statement to NBC12 on Wednesday.

“The family is grief-stricken after learning of the brutal nature of Ivor’s death and his inhumane treatment in the hours preceding his death. The public, and experienced mental health professionals alike, will be appalled when the facts of this case are fully disclosed.”