New CCTV footage released of man ‘smothered to death’ by US police

US News

The final minutes of a man who was “smothered to death” after as many as ten police officers and medical staff appeared to sit on him for 12 minutes were captured in newly-released CCTV footage. 

Irvo Otieno, 28, was handcuffed and shackled at the ankles in the video from 6 March at Virginia‘s Central State Hospital.

The footage shows officers dragging Mr Otieno into an admissions room and forcing him to the floor where they restrain him at 4.28pm.

FILE PHOTO: A portrait of Irvo Otieno, who died during an encouter with law enforcement in Petersburg, in this handout picture from an unknown location released on March 16, 2023. Ben Crump Law/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES/File Photo
Image:
Irvo Otieno

Twelve minutes later, at 4.40pm, Mr Otieno appears unresponsive with chest compressions started two minutes later.

Emergency services arrive and a defibrillator machine appears to have been used before a medical technician drapes a white sheet over him at 5.48pm.

Seven Virginia sheriff’s deputies and three hospital workers have been charged with murder.

Mr Otieno’s mother said her son was “treated like a dog, worse than a dog”.

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Caroline Ouko said: “These nine men and one woman murdered my son.”

Mr Otieno’s brother described his death as a “tragic, senseless, inhumane nightmare”.

“Can someone explain to me why my brother is not here right now? Someone explain to me why my mother can’t sleep, can’t eat,” he said.

“We are broken. Our hearts are broken.”

Family of Irvo Otieno, who died during an encouter with law enforcement in Petersburg, in this handout picture from an unknown location released on March 16, 2023. Ben Crump Law/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Image:
Irvo Otieno (right) with family members

Mr Otieno’s family described him as a selfless person and a talented hip-hop artist.

Mark Krudys, an attorney for Mr Otieno’s family, said: “If you look at that video, as they double down with the pressure they apply, he is gasping for breath.”

“There is a right of every human being to be free to breathe. He was just trying to breathe – that’s all he was trying to do.”

Virginia sheriff deputies wrestle with Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man, at a state mental hospital before he died, in a still image from video surveillance at Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, U.S. March 6, 2023. Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney's Office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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A still from the newly-released CCTV footage

Lawyers for two of the defendants tried to block the release of the video.

Police said Mr Otieno had initially been arrested three days earlier after officers responded to a possible burglary call.

He was placed under an “emergency custody order” which is used in cases of mental illness.

The prosecutor’s office in Virginia said deputies took Mr Otieno to the hospital to be admitted.

Instead, “he died of asphyxia due to being smothered to death, thanks to having at least seven people on top of him and holding him down”, lawyer Ann Cabell Baskervill said at a court hearing on Wednesday.

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