Seven Virginia deputies charged with second-degree murder

They were charged in connection with the death of a man at a state mental hospital

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. – Seven deputies from Henrico County were arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder for the death of a man at a mental hospital, reports NBC 12.

On Friday, March 3, Henrico police placed an emergency custody order on Irvo Otieno after receiving a call for burglary in his neighborhood.

Police took Otieno to Parham Doctors’ Hospital to receive help, but police say Otieno assaulted three officers and was arrested.

Three days later, Henrico deputies took Otieno to Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, and three and a half hours after his arrival, state police were called to investigate his death.

Investigators said they were told the man had become combative and that he died while being restrained.

The Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney said she charged seven Henrico deputies with second degree murder based on criminal information, though the autopsy has yet to be made public.

NBC 12 Analyst Steve Benjamin says that while this is rare in Virginia, an indictment by a grand jury must happen to bring the case to trial.

“Even though the deputies have been arrested on this information they are still entitled to have a Grand Jury hear the evidence and determine if there is probable cause,” Benjamin said.

Henrico supervisor Frank Thornton addressed the incident at the start of the county’s board meeting on Tuesday night.

“I want to offer my sincerest sympathies and a heart felt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Otieno,” Thornton said. “This tragedy highlights the challenges of our community, that our community members face while seeking mental health treatment.”

Thornton said the county is committed to transparency and will cooperate fully with the investigation.

About the Author:

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.