She said she won’t be releasing the video publicly at this point in order to “maintain the integrity” of the criminal justice process.
Speaking to reporters after the arraignment on Wednesday, Cary Bowen, an attorney for Branch, one of the deputies charged, questioned Baskervill’s decision, calling her approach “very aggressive.”
“It’s pretty unusual to go about things the way it’s been done,” Bowen said, according to WTVR. “This could’ve been done with a warrant or by direct indictment, which would have been the normal course of doing it.”
While speaking with reporters Thursday, Crump compared Otieno’s killing to that of George Floyd as he questioned the deputies’ actions. Otieno was face down for about half of the time the deputies were piled on top of him, Crump said.
“Why would anybody not have enough common sense to say we’ve seen this movie before,” Crump said. “If we continue to put pressure and weight and a knee while a person is in a prone position, we know how this movie is going to end.”
The Henrico County Sheriff’s Office has previously said that deputies were responding to a report of a possible burglary when they first made contact with Otieno on March 3, according to local news outlets.
Lt. Matt Pecka said officials placed Otieno under “an emergency custody order” after interacting and observing him and then took him to a local hospital for evaluation where he “became physically assaultive towards officers,” WTVR reported. Picka said Otieno was then taken to a county jail on suspicion of assaulting law enforcement, disorderly conduct, and vandalism, according to the local station. Three days later, he was taken to the state hospital, where he died.
Attorney Mark Krudys, who is also representing Otieno’s family, told reporters that deputies presented “a huge show of force” when they showed up on Ouko’s doorstep that day and took her son into custody, adding Otieno “went peacefully.” Ouko had made it clear to officials that Otieno needed mental health help from physicians, Krudys said, adding that the family questions why he was at first removed from the hospital.
“It was at that facility that he should have gotten help,” the attorney said, “but he was actually whisked out of that hospital.”
The family’s attorneys said they also viewed a video on Thursday of five deputies removing Otieno from a small cell at the jail before transporting him to the state hospital on March 6. Krudys said the footage shows Otieno naked in his cell and feces on the floor while deputies place handcuffs on him and then carry him out by his arms and legs.
“He’s carried … almost upside down being carried like an animal into the vehicle almost lifeless,” he said.
Ouko said her family emigrated from Kenya to the US when Otieno was 4 years old and that her son went to elementary school through high school in Virginia before going to California for college.
“Irvo is as American as apple pie,” she said. “This is what he knows. This is home for him.”
Ouko described her son as a young man with “a big heart” and a leader — not a follower.
“If there was a discussion, he was not afraid to go the other way when everybody else was following,” she said. “This was my baby. He cared for people. He cared that people were treated right.”
And even though he had been living with a mental illness since his senior year of high school and had long stretches where he was in distress, Otieno was an aspiring hip-hop artist and was “happy with what he was doing,” Ouko said.
“He would write a song in less than five minutes,” she said. “He was working towards his own record label.”
But now, he’ll never be able to achieve those dreams.
“What I saw today was heartbreaking, America,” Ouko said, referring to the surveillance video of her son being allegedly smothered by deputies at the state hospital. “It was disturbing, it was traumatic. My son was tortured.”
“Mental illness should not be your ticket to death,” she continued. “There was a chance to rescue him. There was a chance to stop what was going on. And I don’t understand how all systems failed him.”
Ouko said she wants justice for her son and answers for why he was allegedly murdered. She encouraged people to take a moment to listen to his music, which he has uploaded under the name Young Vo, saying that’s all she’s left with of him now.
“I cannot be at his wedding, I’ll never see a grandchild … because someone refused to help him,” Ouko said. “No one stood up to stop what was going on. We have to do better. We have to do better.”