Dismay in US as video shows Virginia deputies restraining black man who died at mental hospital

10 people charged with second-degree murder following the death of Irvo Otieno

Virginia sheriff deputies and medical staffers wrestled with a handcuffed Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old black man, for several minutes at a state mental hospital before he died, video surveillance obtained by the Washington Post shows.

The altercation took place on March 6th as Mr Otieno was being admitted to Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, according to Dinwiddie County commonwealth attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill.

Mr Otieno’s death, which has captured national attention in the United States, is the latest example of a black man dying during a violent encounter with law enforcement in the country.

Police have arrested and charged three former employees of the mental health hospital and seven sheriffs deputies of Henrico County, Virginia, with second-degree murder in Mr Otieno’s death. Most of the deputies and hospital employees involved in the case are also black.


The video shows about six officers carrying Mr Otieno into a room. He appeared to struggle as he was put on the ground. At times as many as 10 deputies and hospital workers held him down while his legs were shackled and his arms were held behind his back. Another six deputies and medical staffers were in the room watching the encounter.

Later the video shows Mr Otieno slumped over and motionless. Officers turned him over and began chest compressions. Later they brought in a defibrillator machine and attempted to revive him.

The nine minutes of video posted on the Washington Post website was a portion of the 27 minutes of footage that the newspaper obtained through court filings, it said. Baskervill has said she would release the full video this week.

It was unclear from the edited video how long Mr Otieno was held down.

The family, who viewed the surveillance video last week, planned a news conference on Tuesday evening, along with their lawyer, the civil rights attorney Ben Crump.

A preliminary report by medical examiners said Otieno, who immigrated to the US from Kenya when he was four years old, died of asphyxiation. Prosecutors say they were told he was restrained during the intake process because he was “combative.”

Officials have not ruled out making more charges or arrests.

Authorities have not said why Otieno was taken into custody or why he was being transferred to the mental health facility, which is located about 40 kilometres south of Richmond, the state’s capital.

The deputies were placed on administrative leave and the Henrico County sheriff's office is conducting an independent investigation into the incident. The department did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Otieno’s death comes after the high-profile police brutality case in January involving some Memphis police officers, who beat Tyre Nichols after a traffic stop. Nichols died after enduring punches and kicks. - Reuters