The mother of a 28-year-old man who died in police custody claims her son was tortured by the seven deputy sheriffs charged with second-degree murder.
Irvo Otieno’s family said they saw a 12-minute video showing him being handcuffed, shackled and pinned to the ground with “the weight of seven people on his body” as he was transferred from a prison to a mental hospital in state in Virginia.
Three hospital workers have been charged in his death alongside seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies, who Mr Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, said treated her son “worse than a dog”.
Speaking at a press conference after viewing the footage on Thursday, she said: “It was traumatic, it was disturbing. My son was tortured.
“He was murdered. They choked my baby’s breath. They murdered my baby.”
Mr. Otieno died on March 6 after being transferred to Georgia Central Hospital from a local jail, where he had spent several days in detention following what his family’s lawyers called a “health crisis mental”.
Henrico County police said their officers initially encountered Mr. Otieno while responding to reports of a burglary on March 3 and due to his behavior took him to a local hospital for an evaluation.
Police say he became ‘physically aggressive towards officers’ who then arrested him and took him to a local jail, where family lawyers say the 28-year-old was denied access to necessary medication and was brutalized.
They added that Mr Otieno was ‘nearly lifeless’ when officers carried him in a vehicle to be transported to the state hospital, and that additional footage from the hospital showed a lack of urgency for him. help after deputies determined ‘he was lifeless and not breathing’.
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“Twelve agonizing minutes”
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of George Floydis now working with Mr. Otieno’s family.
He said: “It is truly shocking that almost three years after the brutal police killing of George Floyd, another family is mourning a loved one who would have died in much the same way – being pinned down by police for 12 agonizing minutes.”
Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory said the deputies have been placed on administrative leave, with hearings scheduled for next week, while the three hospital workers are being held without bail. Prosecutors said additional charges and arrests are pending.