Former medical director at psych hospital 'disappointed by lack of expediency of Central State staff'

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 22, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- A psychiatrist and former medical director at a psychiatric hospital said there was "a lot" that "could have been done better" after watching security videos of Irvo Otieno from Henrico Jail West and Central State Hospital.

The expert agreed to dissect the videos under the condition that CBS 6 keep their identity anonymous.

"I've worked in psychiatric hospitals for 30 to 40 years. this will go down as one of the most difficult restraints given the circumstances I have seen," they said. "I was struck by the number of personnel that were needed anticipatorily to move this gentleman from Henrico County Jail to Central State Hospital."

The doctor said they understood Otieno's family's concerns with the way sheriff's deputies rushed into Otieno's cell to restrain him for transport to Central State, but said that kind of quick entry can be necessary.

"I think that's the only safe way to do it because you had to overwhelm him and try to restrain him," they said.

However, they said the punches that can be seen being thrown by one of the deputies inside the cell were unacceptable.

"I don't know what the purpose of the punch was. Was it to punish, or a message to stop, or we are going to beat you up dead?" they said.

When the deputies and Otieno arrived at Central State Hospital, they had to wait for 18 and a half minutes before they were able to take Otieno into the hospital.

Once inside the admissions room, it took 21 minutes and 45 seconds until a Central State employee administered two injections to Otieno, who by that time already appeared to be lifeless.

"I was disappointed by the lack of expediency and lack of or apparent lack of preparedness by Central State staff," they said. "I would have recommended that they have injectables ready in case they had to use them."

By injectables, the doctor means calming and sedating medications.

"There were a number of minutes while he was still being restrained and fighting, apparently, that a shot should have been given," they said.

They also questioned why hospital staff appeared to have trouble using their own restraints.

"It appeared as if the shackles, the restraints the hospital staff had, either they didn't know how to use them, or they weren't right, there was an error with them. It took them a long time to figure out how to do that," they said.

The psychiatrist said they believe there are a lot of things that could be corrected, and they do not believe there is enough training done on safe restraint.

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