‘My son was tortured’: Family, attorneys react to watching video of Otieno

3 additional arrests were made on Thursday
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 12:34 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2023 at 6:33 PM EDT
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DINWIDDIE, Va. (WWBT) - Attorney Ben Crump said at a news conference on Thursday that Irvo “Ivor” Otieno’s death was “inhumane.”

Otieno’s family and attorneys Ben Crump and Mark Krudys watched surveillance videos of Otieno’s final moments while in the custody of Henrico Sheriff’s Deputies.

These videos are from Henrico Jail and Central State Hospital on March 6, the night Otieno died.

“This was a mental health crisis,” Crump said after he and the family watched surveillance video of Otieno detained by Henrico deputies. “He wasn’t committing a crime.”

“What I saw was heartbreaking,” his mother, Caroline Ouko, said after watching the video. “It was disturbing. It was traumatic. My son was tortured.”

Attorneys further describe what they saw in those videos.

Crump says Otieno was never confrontational or posed a threat to deputies. He also says Otieno wasn’t violent or aggressive.

They said Otieno was in a small cell, naked, with feces all over the floor in Henrico Jail.

“He was carried about by his arms and legs into a vehicle like an animal,” Krudys said.

Crump says Otieno was restrained with handcuffs and leg irons for the majority of the video at Central State Hospital.

“He seems to be in between lifelessness and unconsciousness,” Crump said when describing the video.

They say Otieno was sitting in a chair when deputies pushed him to the ground, lying face down. They also say a deputy also put their knee on Otieno’s neck.

Attorneys say they smothered Otieno for eleven minutes.

“My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog. I saw it with my own eyes,” Ouko said.

The mother says she tried to intervene with officials on certain occasions, but they refused her.

Otieno’s brother Leon Ochieng says he was coming to Richmond that weekend to celebrate his birthday, which quickly turned into a tragic, senseless, inhumane nightmare.

“Can someone explain to me why my brother is not here right now? Can someone explain to me why my mother can’t sleep, can’t eat?” Ochieng said.

Ochieng says he witnessed a lifeless human being without any representation during those videos. He says the deputies involved had no regard for his brother’s life.

The family says Otieno struggled, but mental health should not have been the reason for his death.

“At what point do we stop preserving life? At what point do we consider mental illness a crime?” Ochieng said.

“All that I’m left with is his voice. I cannot be at his wedding. I’ll never see a grandchild out of Otieno because someone refused to help him. No one stood up to stop what was going on,” Ouko said.

Now, the family is calling for change.

Ouko says she wants a system for people suffering from mental health issues, so they can get the real help they need and come back home to their loved ones.

She says a broken system failed her son.

“For now, I’m asking for justice. Justice for my son. Justice for Irvo,” Ouko said.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann C. Baskervill says Otieno died asphyxiation while detained by Henrico County sheriff’s deputies.

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

Ten people - seven Henrico sheriff's deputies and three Central State Hospital employees - face...
Ten people - seven Henrico sheriff's deputies and three Central State Hospital employees - face second-degree murder charges in Irvo Otieno's death.(Virginia State Police)

Seven deputies face a second-degree murder charge in his death:

  • Randy Joseph Boyer
  • Dwayne Alan Bramble
  • Jermaine Lavar Branch
  • Bradley Thomas Disse
  • Tabitha Renee Levere
  • Brandon Edwards Rodgers
  • Kaiyell Dajour Sanders

On Thursday, three Central State Hospital employees were arrested and charged with second-degree murder:

  • Darian M. Blackwell,
  • Wavie L. Jones
  • Sadarius D. Williams


Watch the full news conference with family and attorneys of Ivor Otieno.