CNN reported that Irvo Otieno, died while in police custody at a mental health facility.
7 US officers charged over death of aspiring Kenyan rapper
US authorities have arrested and charged seven Sheriff’s deputies over the death of an aspiring Kenyan rapper in Central Virginia.
Lawyer Ann Cabell Baskervill said on Wednesday 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.
However, the prosecution said that Otieno was already handcuffed and his legs were chained to irons before he was held on the ground for 12 minutes.
She stated that the incident was captured in a video which demonstrated cruel treatment by the authorities.
“The family is grief-stricken after learning of the brutal nature of Ivor’s death and his inhumane treatment in the hours preceding his death,” the family’s lawyer Mark Krudys said.
He also stated that Otieno, who was under medication for mental illness did not take his medication while he was
Henrico County Sheriff Alisa Gregory also said it was conducting an independent investigation into the death and would cooperate with the police.
"Public safety is what we stand for as a Sheriff's Office. We will continue to maintain the highest professional standards in how we serve and protect those in our custody, the community at-large and our staff," he stated.
All seven suspects are expected to appear before a grand jury on March 21.
Order of events leading to Irvo’s death
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.
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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