DINWIDDIE, Va. – Multiple people pinned Irvo Otieno to the floor of a hospital’s admissions unit before the 28-year-old Black man died on March 6, according to new footage.
The roughly 90-minute video, which can be found via a link in public court filings, is at the center of a second-degree murder case that commonwealth’s attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill presented Tuesday morning to a grand jury. Ten people – seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three Central State Hospital employees – were named suspects in Otieno’s death.
A grand jury in Dinwiddie County signed off Tuesday on second-degree murder charges for all 10. The seven deputies charged are Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45; Bradley Thomas Disse, 43; Randy Joseph Boyer, 57; Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37; Tabitha Rene Levere, 50; Brandon Edward Rodgers, 48; and Kalyell Dajour Sanders, 30. The hospital employees are Darian M. Blackwell, 23, Wavie L. Jones, 34, and Sadarius D. Williams, 27.
Otieno died days after he was identified as a potential suspect in a possible burglary. He was taken to the hospital under an emergency custody order and later arrested and charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism, according to Henrico County Police.
The preliminary cause of death is asphyxiation, according to Baskervill. The state medical examiner preliminarily ruled the manner of death as a homicide. At the request of Otieno’s family, Baskervill said she would release the hospital video after the grand jury reached its decision. Attorneys for two of the defendants tried to prevent the video’s release.
What does the video show?
Here’s what the hospital shows happened to Otieno:
- 4:19 p.m.: A shirtless, shoeless Otieno is taken into the admissions intake room. He is lethargic and wearing handcuffs and leg chains. He appears unable to walk, and is first placed across a table, then put on the floor with his head against a cushioned chair. At least two deputies press his head against the chair to keep him still, even though the only parts of him moving are his bare feet, as if they were twitching.
- 4:25 p.m.: Deputies move Otieno’s head off the chair and lay him completely down on the floor. At this point, another deputy approaches and stands near Otieno’s legs.
- 4:27 p.m.: A fourth deputy approaches, and the two of them kneel down to hold Otieno’s legs down. His feet are still moving slightly.
- 4:27 p.m.: The deputies appear to relax their grip on Otieno and he begins to move.
- 4:28 p.m.: More deputies step over to help restrain him, and they are joined by three hospital employees. One of the deputies appears to lie over Otieno to keep him still. There are now five deputies and the three hospital employees holding him down.
- 4:31 p.m.: The deputies and hospital employees roll Otieno over and away from the chair. A deputy wearing a cap walks over and appears to help restrain Otieno. A seventh deputy is standing by watching.
- 4:31 p.m.-4:39 p.m.: Deputies and hospital personnel shift their weight and positions while holding Otieno face down.
- 4:39 p.m.: The deputies release their grip on Otieno and roll him over slightly. One of the deputies notices Otieno’s arms are limp. The deputies step away, while one of the employees continues to check for breathing or a pulse, and a deputy shakes Otieno’s arm.
- 4:40 p.m.: The deputies clear the way for a hospital employee to pull Otieno’s pants partly down and inject him in the buttocks.
- 4:41 p.m.: As people mill about the room, Otieno can be seen lying almost face down on his right side. His left arm is bent onto the floor. Deputies roll him onto his back and then step away as medical personnel begin attending to him. In the background, someone is on the phone.
- 4:42 p.m.: Deputies remove his handcuffs and the hospital staff begins administering CPR, which continues to be administered by different hospital staffers for 26 minutes. By now the room has become filled with others, some assisting and some watching. In the meantime, the deputies can be seen in a hallway just outside the room looking in and huddling among themselves.
- 5:08 p.m.: A Dinwiddie emergency medical services team arrives in the room and takes over the treatment for the next 23 minutes. An automatic CPR machine is attached to Otieno’s chest to continue compressions while the EMS crew checks for vitals and other signs of life.
- 5:41 p.m.: The personnel end treatment and start to clean up and pack up. A crew member drapes Otieno’s body with a white sheet. By this time, the room has cleared out, and the deputies are nowhere in sight.
- 5:49 p.m.: The EMS crew leaves. Otieno’s body remains on the floor covered in a white sheet.
- 6 p.m.: The video ends with two people sitting at a table in the admissions area. Otieno’s body remains unmoved.
The Virginia State Police said they were contacted about Otieno’s death close to 7:30 p.m., 90 minutes after the video’s end.
Attorneys for suspects respond after indictments
Caleb Kershner, an attorney for Deputy Randy Boyer, said in court Otieno had been “somewhat combative” at the jail and hospital. He said Boyer did not realize Otieno was in any danger as he was being restrained because Boyer was working near his legs.
“Clearly, there was a significant need to restrain this man given the mental health issues that were going on,” Kershner said.
Jeff Everhart, an attorney for Deputy Brandon Rodgers, said his client had been trying to help by moving Otieno to his side. But Baskervill said the video shows Otieno was moved on his side only when someone from the hospital came in and told him to roll him over.
Rhonda Quagliana, an attorney for one of the hospital employees, Sadarius Williams, said in an emailed statement her client was innocent of the charges. She said he had only minimal physical contact with Otieno and did not apply lethal force during the incident.
Douglas Ramseur, who represents another hospital employee, Wavie Jones, asked the judge Tuesday to implement a gag order in the case, arguing that the release of the video and subsequent media attention had damaged the defendants’ ability to get a fair trial. The judge, who granted bond for Jones, declined to grant the gag order.
Attorney Ben Crump, family call for video release
At a March news conference outside the Dinwiddie, Virginia, courthouse, Otieno’s family and their attorneys called for Baskervill to release the hospital video, as well as a video taken at the Henrico County Jail. Baskervill told The Progress-Index Sunday she does not plan to release that video, but said the decision could change.
A memorial service for Otieno has not yet been scheduled, according to his family. His brother, Leon Ocheingo, created a GoFundMe account to cover final expenses.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump likened the manner in which Otieno died to the 2020 death of George Floyd while being restrained by Minneapolis police. Video of Floyd’s arrest shows an officer with his knee across Floyd’s neck as Floyd says, “I can’t breathe.”
Reach Bill Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.
Contributing: The Associated Press.