DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- The family of Irvo Otieno is speaking out through their lawyer for the first time since his death, demanding answers about what exactly led up to the 28-year-old's death.
The family's attorney said they are deeply disturbed by the information they are learning, saying he was having a mental health crisis and needed help.
"He was treated deplorably. He was treated with force and not love when he was in a mental health crisis," Mark Krudys, the family's attorney, said.
Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Bakersvill said Otieno died after being suffocated while being held on the ground at Central State Hospital. She said evidence shows he was physically restrained with handcuffs and leg shackles and died during the intake process.
Her officecharged seven Henrico Sheriff's deputies with second-degree murder.
"The family has very real concerns, not only with the actions of the seven deputies but also the staff that was there," Krudys said. "A man handcuffed and in leg irons. There is absolutely no argument the defense counsel could make. He posed no threat to them."
Krudys also discussed what he is told happened at the Henrico Jail.
"Can you imagine how he is feeling? He was naked in his cell and not receiving his medications. They were potentially abusive to him. According to the prosecutor, they pepper-sprayed him," Krudys said.
The Commonwealth's Attorney indicated there is video evidence of the incident. Krudys said the family plans to review the video of the Central State and Henrico jail incidents soon.
"They feel a duty to understand what happened to their loved one. But at the same time, they are very fearful of what they are going to see," Krudys said.
The family said that as they learn more, the incident is leaving them with more questions than answers.
Krudys sent requests to Dinwiddie Fire and Rescue, Central State Hospital, Henrico Doctors Hospital and the jail. So far, he says he hasn't gotten responses.
"We have a lot of questions. Was he medically cleared, was he determined to be stable in order to transport, why was he transported to Central Stateinstead of a hospital?"
For now, Otieno's family is left trying to understand how a crisis mental health situation left their loved one dead.
"It's a very difficult circumstance for her. She gave out a loud wail. She's devastated. This is a very close-knit family," Krudys said.
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