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Irvo Otieno's family gets Sh1.2 billion settlement after his death

In March, U.S. authorities arrested and charged seven Sheriff’s deputies over the death of aspiring Kenyan rapper Irvo Otieno in Central Virginia.

Caroline Ouko, mother of Irvo Otieno, holds a portrait of her son at a news conference in March. Photo Credit: Daniel Sangjib Min/Richmond Times-Dispatch, via Associated Press

The family of Irvo Otieno, who died in custody at a psychiatric hospital in Virginia, has settled a lawsuit for $8.5 million (Sh1.2 billion).

Lawyers for the family say that Otieno died of asphyxiation after deputies and medical staff members piled on top of him.

The settlement agreement states that the state, county, and sheriff have not admitted any liability and deny that their actions caused Otieno's death.

The state, Henrico, and the county's sheriff agreed to pay Otieno's family a total of $8.5 million, with Henrico County paying the most at $4.45 million.

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However, the criminal cases related to Otieno's death are still ongoing.

In March, U.S. authorities arrested and charged seven Sheriff’s deputies over the death of the aspiring Kenyan rapper in Central Virginia.

Lawyer Ann Cabell Baskervill told the court that Otieno was smothered to death as he was being transferred from Henrico County Jail.

The police argued that the deceased became combative while being admitted, forcing them to restrain him.

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On March 10, Henrico Police responded to a report of a possible burglary and encountered Otieno. They placed him under an emergency custody order due to their interactions and observations of him, with the county's Crisis Intervention Team assisting them.

According to Virginia law, a person can be placed under an emergency custody order when there is reason to believe they could harm themselves or others due to mental illness.

Otieno's lawyer stated that he was experiencing a mental health crisis and that his mother was on the scene, asking the police not to be aggressive with him. The lawyer also said that Otieno was collecting lights from a lawn, which was not done out of any wrongful intent, but because he was troubled at the time.

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Eventually, Otieno was taken into custody without incident, but at the hospital, he became physically assaultive towards the officers. As a result, he was charged with three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct in a hospital, and vandalism.

He was held in the Henrico County Jail West and then transferred to Central State Hospital, a state-run mental health facility south of Richmond, by the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office on March 6. It is unclear why he was transferred, according to the commonwealth attorney's office.

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