Political Science professors, retired law enforcement react to ‘inhumane’ video of moments leading up to Irvo Otieno’s death

Ten people are facing second-degree murder charges in connection to the death of Irvo Otieno earlier this month.

Otieno was an inmate at Henrico County Jail, where he was later transferred from to Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, where he later died.

On Tuesday, surveillance video from both the jail and the hospital was released by Dinwiddie County prosecutors, showing the moments leading up to Otieno’s death.

10 News reached out to Virginia Tech Political Science and Africana Studies Professor, Dr. Brandy Faulkner to ask what she thought when she watched the newly-released video.

“It was sad to see this man who was obviously having a mental health crisis, be treated so inhumanely,” said Dr. Faulkner.

In the video, you can see multiple Henrico County deputies on top of Otieno.

10 News also spoke with retired Professor of Criminal Justice and former police officer, Dr. Tod Burke. We asked about his experience of when it’s appropriate to use force as a police officer.

“Sometimes force is necessary for both officer protection and the person they’re bringing in,” said Dr. Burke.

“What was troubling is the number of officers who were involved to be able to hold down an individual. Plus, you are talking about someone who is already handcuffed and shackled,” he added.

Dr. Burke says he wants to see changes in the way law enforcement is trained, especially when dealing with someone who is having a mental health crisis.

Dr. Faulkner says she wants to see legislation pass, specifically the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, in hopes of preventing another instances like Otieno’s death.

“There was an amendment to that act after Tyre Nichols’ death, to call for officers and other medical personnel to have some accountability for what happens. There is a duty to intervene for officers written right into the act. I can’t help but think that if that had been law, would things have been different for Mr. Otieno,” said Dr. Faulkner.

The Virginia NAACP released a statement regarding the video of Otieno’s death.

“Again we have witnessed the death of a Black man at the hands of law enforcement. We applaud the swift decision of the Commonwealth Attorney to charge the seven sheriff’s deputies and three hospital workers with second-degree murder. Nonetheless, there is a need to change how law enforcement responds to mental health crises.”

Robert N. Barnette, Jr., Virginia NAACP President

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.