Deputies ‘tortured’ him ‘like a dog’
The mother of Irvo Otieno, the Virginia man allegedly murdered by seven deputies in a mental hospital, says “traumatic” video shows him being “tortured” like an animal.
“My son was treated like a dog, worse than a dog,” Caroline Ouko said Thursday after seeing “heartbreaking,” “disturbing” and “traumatic” footage of her 28-year-old son’s March 6 death.
“My son was tortured. I saw the torture,” she said of “seven officers on one man,” allegedly including one pinning her son with a knee on his neck, eerily similar to George Floyd’s death.
“He was treated inhumanely. It was traumatic — and it was systematic,” she said, saying the abuse “went on and it went on until he took his last breath.”
“He was murdered! They smothered the breath out of my baby. They murdered my baby,” she said, fighting back tears as she said: “I do not wish this on anyone else.”
She spoke of her pain that “no one stood up to help” her son, who had first sought help at a local hospital before being taken to jail and then ultimately fatally restrained at Central State Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Petersburg.
“Mental illness should not be your ticket to death. There was a chance to rescue him,” she said. “We have to do better.”
Otieno’s older brother, Leon Ochieng, said he had been returning home to Virginia for his weekend when it turned into a “tragic, senseless, inhumane nightmare.”
“Words can’t describe what I just saw today,” he said of footage of his brother’s death that left his family “broken.”
“What I saw was a lifeless human being, without any representation. No regard to his human life,” he said.
“I witnessed a homicide. I did not think in my life that I would witness my own blood brother being murdered,” he said, having to pause to hug his mother after becoming overwhelmed.
Seven deputies have been charged with second-degree murder: 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.
Acclaimed civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family, said the video showed Otieno being pinned down for around 11 to 12 minutes before his death by asphyxiation.
“You see in the majority of the video that he seems to be in between lifelessness and unconsciousness, but yet you see him being restrained so brutally with a knee on his neck,” Crump said.
“The weight of seven individuals on his body while he’s face down, handcuffed with leg irons. … It is so unnecessary, it’s so unjustifiable.”
Otieno’s mom proudly said that her son — who was 4 when they moved to the US from Kenya — was “as American as apple pie.”
“He was a leader” with “a big heart” who “cared that people were treated right,” she said.
“Now all I have is his voice,” she said of recordings the aspiring musician left behind.