RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man whose death last month at a Virginia mental hospital has led to second-degree murder charges against 10 deputies and hospital employees, died of “positional and mechanical asphyxia with restraints,” a medical examiner’s office said Monday.
Arkuie Williams, the administrative deputy in the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, confirmed the findings to The Associated Press after attorneys for Otieno’s family first shared them in a statement. The manner of death was homicide, Williams wrote in an email.
Otieno, who struggled with mental illness, died March 6 after he was pinned to the floor while being admitted to Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County.
Video released earlier this month showed sheriff’s deputies and hospital employees restraining a handcuffed and shackled Otieno for about 20 minutes after he was forcibly led into a hospital room. For much of that time, Otieno was prone on the floor, pinned by a group so large it blocked the camera’s view of him at times.
“The official cause and manner of death is not surprising to us as it corroborates what the world witnessed in the video,” family attorneys Ben Crump and Mark Krudys said in a statement. “In a chilling parallel to George Floyd’s killing, Irvo was held down and excessively restrained to death, when he should have been provided medical help and compassion. It is tragic that yet another life has been lost to this malicious and deadly restraint technique.”
Krudys and Crump have said Otieno was not resisting the deputies and others but was simply trying to breathe.
Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press