RICHMOND, Va. –– Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump and co-counsel Mark Krudys have petitioned the United States Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Irvo Otieno.
On March 6, 2023, Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man who suffered from a serious mental illness, was crushed to death by multiple Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies and employees of Central State Hospital. Employees piled onto Otieno’s body for 12 minutes as he laid primarily face down on the state hospital admission room floor, restrained with handcuffs and leg irons.
Since the late 1990s, the DOJ and other law enforcement authorities have warned of risk of death caused by positional restraint to those on their abdomen. After an autopsy and investigation, the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined the official cause of Mr. Otieno’s death to be: “POSITIONAL AND MECHANICAL ASPHYXIA WITH RESTRAINTS.” The official manner of death was ruled “HOMICIDE.”
In their letter, Attorneys Crump and Krudys assert that the resources of the U.S. Department of Justice are necessary to ably and properly prosecute the defendants. Last week,
Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill resigned her position. On June 21, 2023, the three Circuit Court judges who preside in Dinwiddie County selected an attorney with no prosecutorial experience and minimal jury trial experience to assume the role of interim Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Crump and Krudys state that the newly appointed CA and his similarly new, small staff are not adequately prepared to prosecute the eight defendants, all of whom have separate, experienced counsel. Additionally, the federal civil rights laws outlawing the application of excessive force by law enforcement officers are the appropriate vehicle to address the eight defendants’ conduct.
ABOUT BEN CRUMP LAW
Through his work, nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump has spearheaded a legal movement to better protect the rights of marginalized citizens. He has led landscape-changing civil rights cases and represented clients in a wide range of areas including civil rights, personal injury, labor and employment, class actions, and more. Ben Crump Law is dedicated to holding the powerful accountable. For more information, visit bencrump.com.