Disturbing video showing the last moments of Virginia man Irvo Otieno was obtained by outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post on Tuesday, the same day 10 people were indicted on second-degree murder charges. Prosecutors say the 28-year-old Black man was smothered to death as he was held down by deputies and medical workers at Central State Hospital. The surveillance video shows that up to 10 people held Otieno down until he stopped moving, the Post reports. Otieno, who was handcuffed and shackled, was held down for around 11 minutes. The video shows that after he became unresponsive, attempts to resuscitate him went on for almost an hour before his body was draped in a white sheet.
The video shows that Otieno, who had been in law enforcement custody for several days, was forcibly led into a room at the hospital and slumped to the floor after being hauled toward a seat, the AP reports. The deputies and medical workers piled on him as he appeared to move on the floor. Family members say Otieno, who had struggled with mental illness for years, was taken into custody three days before his March 6 death, the Times reports. He was taken from his home in an ambulance but was brought to the Henrico County Jail after allegedly becoming "physically assaultive" toward officers who took him to a local hospital for evaluation. He was taken to the state hospital after spending days in jail.
Lawyers say Otieno's mother tried to bring him medication for his mental illness while he was in jail, but she was rebuffed. A grand jury approved charges against seven deputies and three medical workers Tuesday. Attorney Ben Crump and NAACP President Derrick Johnson have likened the death to that of George Floyd. "Police are simply not a substitute for compassionate and informed mental health professionals," Johnson said Tuesday. "Rather than neglecting and criminalizing the Black community, we need action to make sure no one experiences or witnesses this kind of violence at the hands of law enforcement ever again." (Read more Virginia stories.)