Ten people have been arrested in connection with the death of Irvo Noel Otieno, 28, in Henrico County, south of Richmond, VA, on March 6. Seven of those arrested are law enforcement officials, while the other three are employees at Central State Hospital, a state-run mental facility in Dinwiddie County.
Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill has provided some information surrounding Otieno's arrest on March 3, as well as the events leading up to his death. Baskervill stated, "They smothered him to death. He died of asphyxia due to being smothered."
Baskervill filed a criminal information charge, which allows for criminal proceedings to begin without a grand jury's vote. She explained to NPR, "This legal tactic is for the purpose of protecting other Henrico County jail residents. It allows for a justified and immediate removal of these seven individuals from their current capacities."
It was reported that police were called to a residence on March 3 over a possible burglary, and when they arrived, Otieno was placed under an emergency custody order and taken to a local hospital. Officers claimed that Otieno became combative with officers, who arrested and charged him with vandalism, disorderly conduct, and three counts of assault on law enforcement officers.
Once at the jail, Baskervill alleges that Otieno was mistreated by officers, who beat him, pepper sprayed him and stripped him naked to be put in a cell without washing the pepper spray off of him. civil rights attorney Mark Krudys, who is representing Otieno's family, stated, "If you're handcuffed, as he apparently was, and they spray that into your eyes and you're naked and you're undergoing a mental health crisis and none of your loved ones are there — it's a scary situation."
On March 6, Otieno was transported to a mental health hospital, and he had been without medication since his arrest three days prior, despite his mother repeatedly visiting the jail to get the medication to him. Once at the hospital, all seven deputies tried to physically restrain Otieno by lying on top of him, which was captured on a yet-to-be-released 12-minute video.
Krudys questions the deputies' claims that Otieno was combative, stating, "Our focus is not only on the seven [arrested] but on the Central State Hospital employees that were there and their actions, as well as what happened, for instance at the jail while he was there? Why was he naked in the cell, why was he pepper sprayed, why did that all occur to a person that was in a mental health crisis and should not have been thrust into the criminal justice system like he was."
Baskervill stated that the video shows "deliberate and cruel" treatment, and she added that it will not be immediately released to the public. It was also revealed that the deputies arrested are Randy Joseph Boyer, 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. The hospital workers, whose roles were not revealed, are Darian M. Blackwell, 23; Wavie L. Jones, 34 and Sadarius D. Williams, 27.