Prosecutors: 7 Deputies Fatally Smothered Man in Hospital

Deputies in Henrico County, Virginia, are now facing murder charges in death of Irvo Otieno
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2023 2:26 PM CDT
Prosecutors: 7 Deputies Fatally Smothered Man in Hospital
   (Getty / Sasun Bughdaryan)

Seven Virginia sheriff's deputies are now facing murder charges after authorities say they fatally smothered a physically restrained man in their custody during the intake process at a local hospital. NBC News reports that 28-year-old Irvo Otieno "died of asphyxia due to being smothered to death, thanks to having at least seven people ... on top of him and holding him down" on the afternoon of March 6 at Central State Hospital, said Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill in a Wednesday court hearing. Per a statement from Henrico County Police Division, Otieno's engagement with officers began on March 3, when deputies responded to a call that morning about a possible burglary taking place at a private residence.

When they arrived, they said they encountered Otieno, who is Black. "Based on their interaction with and observation of Otieno, HCPD officers placed him under an emergency custody order," the statement says, which NBC notes is the type of order used in cases involving mental illness. He was taken to the hospital, where he became "physically assaultive" toward police, who then brought him to jail (Otieno's family denies the assault part, per the New York Times). Family attorney Mark Krudys tells the paper that Otieno's mother tried to bring him medication for his mental illness while he was in jail but was rebuffed, with jail officials telling her that Otieno would see a doctor in a few days' time. "The more time that passes without you getting your meds, the more distressed you become," Krudys says.

March 6 was the day Otieno was brought once more to the hospital, and he died while handcuffed and shackled, per Krudys and prosecutors. It's unclear what exactly happened during the intake process to spur the scuffle, though Krudys says Otieno's family is scheduled to view surveillance footage. The Henrico County Sheriff's Office deputies charged in the case, and said to be on administrative leave until the case is closed, per the prosecutor's office and sheriff's office: Randy Joseph Boyer, 57; Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37; Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45; Bradley Thomas Disse, 43; Tabitha Renee Levere, 50; Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48; and Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30. "The family is truly grief-stricken after learning of the brutal nature of Irvo's death and his inhumane treatment," a lawyer for his family says in a statement, per NBC. (More Virginia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.