Prosecutors release video of man’s death in custody
DINWIDDIE, Va. – Prosecutors plan to release next week the video that prompted Virginia authorities to indict seven lawmakers and three employees at a state mental health facility with second-degree murder in death of a bound and bound man.
Irvo Otieno’s family saw video of his death on Thursday. With her blessing, the footage will be released to the public in the next few days, said Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill Richmond Times Dispatch.
Lawyers for the family described the video to reporters as showing 12 agonizing minutes in which MPs held down and suffocated Otineo, a black man whose arms and legs were bound.
“You can see they’re putting in a lot of effort. Every part of his body is being crushed with absolute brutality,” family attorney Mark Krudys said.
Prosecutors said Otieno, 28, did not appear combative and was sitting in a chair when officers dragged him down.
The 12-minute video also showed a lack of urgency to help Otieno after MPs noted “he was lifeless and not breathing,” Krudys said.
So far, ten people have been charged with second-degree murder in Otieno’s death — seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three hospital employees.
The lawyers for those arrested have not yet seen the video.
“They show the plaintiffs’ attorneys the video. But we represent these people who are charged with murder and who are incarcerated. It’s really disappointing. It seems more important to try to win the public’s favor by trying the case in the media than letting the criminal proceedings run as they are supposed to,” defense attorney Peter Baruch told the Richmond newspaper.
Otieno’s case is the latest example of a black man’s death in custody being scrutinized by law enforcement. A fatal caning follows Tire Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this year and comes nearly three years after the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Otieno, who was a child when his family emigrated from Kenya and grew up in the Richmond suburb, had a history of mental health issues and was suffering from mental health issues at the time of his first encounter with law enforcement earlier this month, his family and lawyers said .
This set off a chain of events that saw him spend several days in detention before authorities said he died on March 6 when he was admitted to Central State Hospital, south of Richmond.
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