There is now surveillance video in the case of Irvo Otieno, a mentally ill man who suffocated to death while in police custody.
The silent video shows Otieno, who is handcuffed and in leg irons, being escorted into the admission room of the Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, at 4:19 p.m. on March 6. The 28-year-old is led to a chair and approximately eight minutes later, at least two sheriff’s deputies are shown holding Otieno on the ground, reacting when he moves.
The sheriff’s deputies then seem to lose their grip on him and he is rolled across the floor. Four minutes later, more sheriff’s deputies and hospital staff arrive to restrain him. Shortly after that, at least nine people are seen piling on top of Otieno to hold him down, while other hospital staff look on.
The video shows he was held down for 11 minutes.
“My son was treated like a dog. Worse than a dog. My son was tortured,” said Otieno’s mother, Caroline Ouko, who saw the video last week.
Twenty minutes after entering the admissions room, Otieno appears to be immobile. The Washington Post reports that resuscitation efforts lasted for less than an hour. Otieno died at the scene. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s preliminary report has identified asphyxiation as a cause of death.
“You see him being restrained so brutally, with a knee on his neck,” said attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Otieno’s family.
Defense attorneys tried to stop any release of the video, which was obtained by The Washington Post. Prosecutor Ann Cabell Baskervill said she intends to make the video public on Tuesday.
The Washington Post says it obtained the video by clicking on Dropbox links that were listed in a public court filing as part of Baskervill’s obligation to provide relevant information to the defense attorney.
Ten people have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with his death, including seven Virginia sheriff’s deputies and three hospital employees.
On Tuesday, the grand jury in Dinwiddie County will meet for a final determination of charges.