Her son died at a Virginia hospital. Her questions remain unanswered: 'Why was my son not taken care of?'

Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 17:59:09-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- One year after Irvo Otieno died on the floor of a Virginia psychiatric hospital, his mother Caroline Ouko is still left with an excruciating question.

"Why? Why was my son not taken care of and ended up dead?” she asked. “Not a single day passes without me thinking about Irvo.”

It was a spanning set of systems that Ouko said failed her son, who she said just needed mental health help.

 Irvo Otieno
Irvo Otieno

From investigators finding that HCA Henrico Doctors’ Hospital failed to stabilize Otieno’s crisis to Henrico Police removing Otieno from a psychiatric unit and taking him to jail where he sat for days to Henrico Sheriff's Deputies and a medical worker being charged with murder after video showed them pressing down on Otieno’s body at Central State Hospital.

"My son’s murder was like a movie. They can play it, and they can successfully see how everything happened. And there are many more that need to be held accountable," Ouko said.

What happened to Irvo Otieno? Full security video shows final moments.

Ouko said she believed the U.S. Department of Justice needed to launch an investigation into her son's death.

"I am appealing today to the United States justice system. I'm appealing, please. I'm appealing. If you need to step in, if there was a time and a case where you would step in, check what happened to my son. This is the time," she said.

 Caroline Ouko Irvo Otieno 2024
Allan-Charles Chipman and Caroline Ouko

And on this anniversary, his family and friends don’t want the public to be reminded of how he died, but rather how he touched others when he was alive.

"Brother Vo was very passionate about making sure people were treated right," Allan-Charles Chipman, who helped produce songs with Otieno, said. "He wanted to impact the world in his own way, and he wanted to make music."

 Irvo Otieno was streaming his music under the moniker “Young Vo," his mother said.

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It’s those memories that push his loved ones to continue fighting for justice and change.

“Irvo was kind. Irvo was gracious. Irvo was empathetic," his mother said. "If we couldn’t save Irvo, let us make sure that this never happens to anyone else."

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