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Youngkin calls for patience in Otieno murder case

Fiver people in formal clothing walk while looking down. One in the center holds a photo of another person
Whittney Evans
VPM News
The family of Irvo Otieno spoke with reporters last week after seeing a video they say shows his death. The family called for the commonwealth's attorney in the case to release the video, which the prosecutor later said will be done.

The governor connects 28-year-old's death to a need for behavioral health investments.

Updated at 5:55 p.m. Monday with new information about a motion to prevent release of the tape.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin plans to watch a videotape showing the last moments of Irvo Otieno’s life, he told reporters Monday in Richmond.

Youngkin called for the public’s patience after seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three Central State Hospital employees were charged with second-degree murder in Otieno’s death.

“There is a judicial process going on and we have to fully respect that, and I ask everybody to please fully respect it,” Youngkin said. “We also can just see the heart-wrenching nature of the challenges in our behavioral health system.”

Youngkin said the incident further demonstrates the need for a major mental health system overhaul. In January, the governor announced a 3-year plan to funnel $230 million into behavioral healthcare — which hinges on the General Assembly finalizing the state budget.

Dinwiddie County Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill announced Friday that she would release Central State Hospital security footage showing the incident.

The 28-year-old Otieno died of asphyxiation while in the custody of Henrico sheriff’s deputies at the hospital on March 6, Baskervill said.

Otieno’s family addressed the media outside the Dinwiddie County Courthouse on March 16, after watching the video.

“You should have confidence ... that the local police and local government is working to make sure that the care that you receive from the minute that they deal with you is utmost focus on preserving your life, but not ending it,” said Leon Ochieng, Otieno’s brother.

NBC 12 has reported that two defense attorneys filed a motion with the judge Monday to prevent prosecutors from releasing the video footage to the public. It’s unclear when the judge will rule on that motion.

Attorneys for the Henrico officers have called the charges premature because they came before prosecutors could secure indictments. A grand jury on the case is meeting Tuesday to determine if indictments will be granted.


Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
Patrick Larsen is VPM News' environment and energy reporter, and fill-in host.
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