Sunday, September 24, 2023
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Sunday, September 24, 2023

Family of Deceased Man in Psychiatric Hospital Seeks Federal Investigation




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Lawyers representing the relatives of a man who tragically died during his admission to a psychiatric hospital in Virginia have formally requested the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death, Your Content has learned.

The family’s legal team, led by civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Virginia attorney Mark Krudys, expressed concerns regarding the ability of the local prosecutor’s office to adequately handle the case, prompting their appeal for federal involvement.

The deceased, Irvo Otieno, aged 28, passed away on March 6 while being admitted to Central State Hospital.

Disturbing video footage from the hospital revealed that Otieno, who was handcuffed and shackled, was forcibly pinned to the floor for approximately 11 minutes by a group consisting of Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and hospital staff, numbering as many as 10 individuals at one point.

Seven deputies and three hospital workers were subsequently charged with second-degree murder in connection with Otieno’s death.

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However, shortly before her departure, former Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill dropped charges against two of the workers, raising concerns about the ongoing prosecution.

The family of Otieno, who was African American, has asserted that he was subjected to severe mistreatment during a mental health crisis, both while in the hospital’s care and during his days in law enforcement custody prior to the incident.

In their letter addressed to federal authorities, the attorneys representing Otieno’s family expressed doubt regarding the ability of the recently appointed Commonwealth’s Attorney and their small team to effectively handle the case, given their existing caseload and the complexity of prosecuting the eight defendants, each with their own experienced legal representation.

They emphasized that federal civil rights laws, designed to prohibit the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers, would be an appropriate avenue to address the alleged misconduct by the defendants.

The lawyers also underscored the significance of the matter, which has garnered significant community attention, and called for the thoroughness and expertise of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ensure a comprehensive investigation.

While they did not request complete exclusion of state prosecutors from the case, they advocated for parallel state murder charges to be pursued by the Dinwiddie Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, while the DOJ investigates potential excessive force violations.

At present, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Justice Department, and the Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office have not provided comments or responses to these requests.

The Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy, determining that asphyxia was the cause of Otieno’s death, classifying it as a homicide.

Defense attorneys representing some of the defendants have argued that Otieno exhibited combative behavior, and the deputies’ actions were an attempt to restrain him, as stated during court hearings and in their statements, according to U.S. News.

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