Henrico mom 'broken' after seeing video of son's death at Virginia hospital: 'My son was treated like a dog'

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-19 11:51:18-04

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- Irvo Otieno's family said they were left "broken" after watching a video of their loved one's death.

"My son was treated like a dog. Worse than a dog," Otieno's mother Caroline Ouko said during a Thursday press conference.

"What I saw, I witnessed a homicide," Otieno's brother Leon Ochieng said.

Irvo Otieno's family shown video of his final moments

Otieno's mother and brother spoke minutes after they watched two videos at the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

The first video showed Otieno at the Henrico County jail on March 6.

The second showed Otieno inside Central State Hospital.

'What I saw today was heartbreaking," Ouko said.

Caroline Ouko speaks about her son Irvo Otieno's death

The family's lawyers, Mark Krudys and Ben Crump, described what they said the videos showed.

At the Henrico Jail, they said Otieno was naked in his cell with feces on the ground. They said he was handcuffed when five Henrico deputies rushed into the cell and carried him out.

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

Once inside Central State, a state-run psychiatric hospital, the attorneys said Otieno was seated in a chair with handcuffs and leg restraints and was not resisting.

They said deputies pushed him to the ground where he lay facedown. Seven deputies andthree Central State employees, all now charged with second-degree murder, then pushed down on him with force, they said.

The attorneys said at least two deputies put their knees on Otieno's neck.

 Irvo Otieno
Irvo Otieno

They said it lasted 11 minutes.

"Why in the wake of George Floyd would you put a knee on a neck?" Crump asked.

Otieno's mother and brother want to know why, especially when the Henrico Police officers who originally took Otieno to Henrico Doctor's Hospital on March 3, knew he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

"The doctor said he was caring for him and he would be ok," Ouko said.

But it was there that Henrico Police decided to charge Otieno with assaulting an officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital, and vandalism.

Otieno's family does not know why.

Henrico Police had stated Otieno was "physically assaultive" toward officers.

"I don’t understand how all systems failed him," Ouko said.

"At what point do we consider mental illness a crime?" Ochieng asked.

They said they now hoped for justice for Otieno and changes to what they called a broken system.

They hoped the videos would be released to the public soon.

"Every single family in America you are dealing with mental illness in the family. One or two or three people are doing with mental illness. You should not wake up and feel sick and consider whether or not you should call for help," Ochieng said.

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