Seven Virginia sheriff’s deputies were charged with second-degree murder in connection to the death of a 28-year-old man at a state mental hospital. Henrico County Sheriff’s Office personnel took the victim, Irvo Otieno, to Central State Hospital on March 6 to admit him as a patient, said Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill. Otieno, who was physically restrained, died during the intake process, reports USA Today. The Virginia State Police are leading the criminal investigation of the case. Otieno’s family has raised concerns about his treatment, with his mother telling the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “something went wrong” while he was in the government’s custody.
“The family is grief-stricken after learning of the brutal nature of [Irvo’s] death and his inhumane treatment in the hours preceding his death. The public, and experienced mental health professionals alike, will be appalled when the facts of this case are fully disclosed,” said Mark Krudys, an attorney for the family. Otieno, whose family is from Kenya, was aan aspiring musician who had been a well-known high school athlete in the area, Krudys said. Henrico County police said officers responding to a report of a possible burglary March 3 identified Otieno as a potential suspect. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation. At the hospital, Otieno “became physically assaultive toward officers, who arrested him” and took him to a local jail, which is managed by the Henrico Sheriff’s Office. Baskervill said sheriff’s office employees took him to Central State Hospital to be admitted. Around 7:30 p.m., state police were called to investigate his death. State police investigators were told Otieno had “become combative during the admission process,” Baskervill said.