7 Virginia sheriffs deputies arrested in death of US suspect

VIRGINIA – Seven sheriff’s deputies of Henrico County, Virginia, in the United States, have been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of a suspect who was being transported to a mental health facility from jail.

Irvo Otieno, 28, died on March 6 as he was being admitted to Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, Dinwiddie County Commonwealth attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said.

Petersburg is in central Virginia, roughly 40km south of Richmond.

Medical examiners have not released a cause of death for Otieno.

Prosecutors say they were told Otieno was restrained during the intake process because he was being “combative”.

The New York Times reported that Otieno, who immigrated to the United States from Kenya when he was four years old, may have died from asphyxiation as he was being smothered on the ground by officers.

“As Henrico County Sheriff and on behalf of our entire office, I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Irvo Otieno,” Henrico County sheriff Alisa Gregory said in a written statement released to Virginia television station WWBT.

“The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Otieno’s life was lost. This loss is felt by not only those close to him but our entire community,” Ms Gregory said.

The deputies were placed on administrative leave and the sheriff’s office would conduct an independent investigation into the incident, Ms Gregory said.

The authorities have not said why Otieno was taken into custody or why he was being transferred to a mental health facility.

The defendants were identified as 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. REUTERS

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