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Otieno family reaches $8.5M settlement with state, Henrico

Caroline Ouko with mic at lectern behind Irvo Otieno's casket
Shaban Athuman
VPM News File
Caroline Ouko speaks about her son, Irvo Otieno, during a March 29 funeral service for him at First Baptist Church of South Richmond.

The family of a man who died while handcuffed and pinned to the floor for about 11 minutes as he was being admitted to a Dinwidde County psychiatric hospital has reached an $8.5-million settlement with the state, county and the sheriff whose deputies were involved in restraining the man.

A judge approved the wrongful death settlement Tuesday, according to an agreement filed in Henrico Circuit District Court.

“The family of Irvo Otieno and the County of Henrico, its Sheriff, and the Commonwealth of Virginia have reached a confidential settlement regarding the death of Irvo Otieno," attorneys Ben Crump and Mark Krudys, who represent the slain man's family, wrote in a press release. "The family is pleased that they were able to find a resolution outside of court in a manner that honors Irvo’s life.”

The 28-year-old Otieno died while handcuffed and pinned to the floor of Central State Hospital for about 11 minutes by seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three hospital employees.

His death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation. All 10 defendants were indicted on second-degree murder charges, but charges against two of the hospital employees were later dropped.

Otieno’s family has said he had a long history of mental health problems and was struggling to breathe while he was being held down. Some of the defendants’ lawyers have said that Otieno was combative and they were simply trying to restrain him.

The settlement agreement said the state, county and the sheriff have not admitted any liability and deny that their actions caused Otieno’s death, but have agreed to collectively pay the $8.5 million to Otieno’s family.