On Tuesday, a disturbing video surfaced showing a group of Virginia sheriff’s deputies and workers at a mental hospital pinning 28-year-old Irvo Otieno to the ground before launching unsuccessful resuscitation efforts on the Black man. The footage depicts a harrowing scene where at one point, at least 10 people are seen trying to keep Otieno restrained on the ground.
In the video, Otieno appears to start moving again while being held by law enforcement, prompting more people in the room to join their efforts to restrain him. Despite their efforts, Otieno eventually appears to stop moving, with his hands and arms appearing limp.
According to reports, Otieno was a Kenyan native who came to the United States when he was just 4 years old and grew up in the Richmond area. However, he began experiencing mental health issues in his final year of high school.
At the time he first came into contact with law enforcement in early March, Otieno was experiencing mental distress. His family has since spoken out about their deep concerns regarding the use of force in restraining Otieno and the subsequent failed resuscitation efforts that followed.
The release of the video has sparked outrage and calls for justice from activists and community members alike. Many have pointed to this incident as yet another example of the systemic racism and violence faced by Black individuals, particularly those with mental health issues, at the hands of law enforcement.
As the investigation into Otieno’s death continues, many are calling for greater accountability and reform within the criminal justice and mental health systems. The tragic loss of Otieno’s life has once again brought to the forefront the urgent need for comprehensive and compassionate care for those struggling with mental health issues, and for an end to the systemic violence faced by Black individuals at the hands of law enforcement.