(NEW YORK) — Less than a week after his funeral, Irvo Otieno’s official cause of death has just been announced following his death in police custody during an alleged mental health crisis.
Otieno, 28, was being transferred to a mental health hospital when several deputies and hospital staff piled on top of him for more than 10 minutes. According to the medical examiner, the official cause of death is “positional and mechanical asphyxia with restraints,” and the official manner of death is “homicide.”
Family attorneys Ben Crump and Mark Krudys released a statement Monday afternoon after being informed by the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner regarding the medical examiner’s findings.
According to the release, Caroline Ouko, Otieno’s mother, was initially unable to speak when she first heard the news, but proceeded to demand justice for her son.
“All must know what they did to my son,” she said, according to the release.
Crump and Krudys released an additional statement regarding the medical examiner’s findings: “The official cause and manner of death is not surprising to us as it corroborates what the world witnessed in the video. 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.”
On March 15, seven Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies and three Central State Hospital employees were arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection to Otieno’s death. All parties involved have been indicted by a grand jury. Currently, no pleas have been entered.
On March 3, a neighbor called the police on Otieno during a mental health crisis, according to his mother, and he was then transferred to a nearby hospital. There, he was arrested and taken the Henrico County Jail. After three days at the jail, Otieno was transferred to Virginia’s Central State Hospital where officers and health care workers are seen pilling on top of him for several minutes, according to released video footage. Otieno was pronounced dead the same day on March 6.
Video footage showed Otieno being pulled from his cell partially naked and being moved into a police vehicle that transferred him to the hospital. In video footage obtained by ABC News, Otieno can be seen at the hospital being held down for nearly 11 minutes until he stops moving.
“The disgrace was not Irvo had a mental illness. The disgrace is how [police] treat it, and you do it all over the country,” Rev. Al Sharpton said during Otieno’s funeral. “The question is why is law enforcement not equipped to handle the mentally challenged?”
The officers and medical staff are not expected in court until late April or early May.
“When I took my son to the hospital, this is not what I envisioned. I didn’t think my son was not coming home,” Ouko said. “But this is where we are. And I’m sorry.”
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