‘Worse Than a Dog’: Virginia Deputies, Hospital Staff Piled on Top of Black Man Irvo Otieno for More Than 10 Minutes, Video Shows

A disturbing video of at least 10 sheriff’s deputies and hospital staff piling on top of a Black man and smothering him to death was released on March 21.

Irvo N. Otieno, 28, died at the Central State Hospital in St. Petersburg, Virginia, on March 6.

The Washington Post first shared the newly released hospital surveillance video that shows the deputies piling on top of Otieno for about 11 full minutes until he no longer moves. Henrico County sheriff’s deputies are also seen dragging Otieno into an admissions room wearing handcuffs and leg irons as they restrain him until his body goes limp at approximately 4:40 p.m.

Irvo Otieno
Irvo Otieno (left) was smothered to death at the Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, Virginia on March 6, 2023. (Photo: Twitter / Ben Crump)

Otieno was arrested on March 3 after the Henrico County Police Department responded to a report of a possible burglary. Otieno was placed under an emergency custody order based on his interactions with the police and taken to a hospital for observation before being booked at the Henrico County Jail West after allegedly assaulting three officers. He was taken to the state mental health facility, Central State Hospital, on March 6.

The surveillance shows Otieno arriving at approximately 3:58 p.m. At 4:16 p.m., Otieno is removed from an SUV and walked into the hospital by deputies without a shirt. Two minutes are unaccounted for before four to five sheriff’s deputies are seen dragging Otieno into the admissions room at 4:19 p.m. Two sheriff’s deputies then held Otieno down as he sat on the ground with his back against a seat.

At around 4:28 p.m., Otieno appears to move, prompting at least eight deputies and hospital staff to pile onto him as they held his legs and upper body. By 4:31 p.m., at least 10 people are restraining Otieno, with one deputy lying atop him with his full weight.

At approximately 4:40 p.m., Otieno no longer moves. It is a full minute later before hospital staff members administer an injection and try to resuscitate the 28-year-old. A preliminary report by the chief medical examiner’s office says the cause of death is asphyxiation.

Henrico County sheriff’s deputies Jermaine Branch, Randy Boyer, Bradley Disse, Tabitha Levere, Brandon Rodgers, Dwayne Bramble and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders were charged with second-degree murder. Hospital staffers Darian Blackwell, Wavie L. Jones and Sadarius Williams were also charged with second-degree murder.

The family was shown the video last week. His mother, Caroline Ouko, said after viewing the video that her son was tortured.

“My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog,” said Ouko. “I saw it with my own eyes in the video. He was treated inhumanely, and it was traumatic, and it was systemic.”

“What I saw today was heartbreaking. It was disturbing. It was traumatic. My son was tortured,” she added. “Mental illness should not be your ticket to death. There was a chance to rescue him, there was a chance to stop what was going on.”

Mark Krudys, an attorney for the family, said that the jailhouse footage was nearly as graphic as the hospital video and detailed a nude Otieno being battered and pepper-sprayed by Henrico County sheriff’s office employees. The family opted not to view the jailhouse video, which has not been publically released.

“You can see that they’re putting their back into it,” he said. “Every part of his body is being pushed down with absolute brutality. You cannot even see his image many times.”

A spokesperson from the FBI said that they were in looking into the circumstances surrounding Otieno’s death.

“FBI Richmond has been in contact with authorities investigating the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Mr. Irvo Otieno,” said the spokesperson. “We have no further comments to share at this time.

Ouko said that her musician son could write a song in under five minutes and wanted to begin his own record label.

“He had found his thing. You know that feeling when you find your thing? He was happy with what he was doing,” noted Ouko. “He would go in his room and shut the door. And he had it. He was brilliant and creative and bright.”

Back to top