Authorities charged three new suspects after an inmate died at a mental hospital. Darian M. Blackwell, 23, Wavie L. Jones, 34, and Sadarius D. Williams, 27 — now-former staffers of Central State Hospital — each face a count of second-degree murder, according WTVR on Thursday. This follows shortly after state cops in Virginia arrested seven Henrico County deputies on the same charge.
Authorities claim all 10 defendants are responsible for Irvo Otieno, 28, dying in custody at the facility on March 6.
“State police investigators were told he had become combative during the admission process, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Dinwiddie County said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “Otieno, who was physically restrained, died during the intake process. His body was transported to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for examination and autopsy.
The deputies were identified as Randy Joseph Boye, 57, Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37, Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45, Bradley Thomas Disse, 43, Tabitha Renee Levere, 50, Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48, and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30.
“As Henrico County sheriff and on behalf of our entire office, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Irvo Otieno,” Henrico County Sheriff Alisa A. Gregory said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime. “The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Mr. Otieno’s life was lost. This loss is felt by not only those close to him but our entire community. The seven deputies who were transferring custody of Mr. Otieno have been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the Commonwealth’s cases.”
Prosecutors voiced plans to release video of the man’s death.
“According to prosecutors, Otieno was in handcuffs and leg irons and was held on the ground for 12 minutes by the seven deputies, smothering him to death,” the family’s attorney’s law office said in a statement.
His family saw footage on Thursday, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Video showed Otieno being “tortured” and treated “worse than a dog,” his mother Caroline Ouko reportedly said.
He did not appear to be combative, prosecutors said, according to WTVR. Authorities said he was sitting in a chair when deputies pulled him down.
“He was treated deplorably,” Attorney Mark Krudsy, who also works for Otieno’s family, reportedly explained. “He was treated with force and not love when he was in a mental health crisis.”
Otieno was bound in such a way that he was no danger to deputies and staff, the lawyer said.
“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.”
The defense reportedly did not see the footage.
“So much has been made of this video,” Disse’s attorney Peter Baruch told the Times-Dispatch. “They show the plaintiffs’ attorneys the video. But we’re representing these people charged with murder that are locked up. It’s really disappointing. It seems like it’s more important to curry public favor, to try the case in the media, instead of letting the criminal justice process work the way it’s supposed to work.”
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