Amid a disconcerting twist of events, three employees hailing from a Virginia mental hospital currently face second-degree murder charges connected to the tragic passing of Irvo Otieno, a Black man who tragically lost his life while in custody just last week. This case has gained significant attention as one of the most prominent instances involving the death of Black individuals in police custody since the tragic incidents involving George Floyd and Tyre Nichols in Tennessee and Minneapolis, respectively.
The individuals in question are Darian Blackwell (23) from Petersburg, Wavie Jones (34) from Chesterfield, and Sadarius Williams (27) from North Dinwiddie. They were apprehended on Thursday and are presently detained without bail at the Meherrin River Regional Jail in Brunswick County. The charges stem from the untimely demise of Irvo Otieno on March 6, during the process of transferring him to Central State Hospital.
At 28 years old, Otieno had been a former high school athlete and aspiring musician. His family, speaking to CNN affiliate WTVR, shared that he grappled with mental health challenges and navigated the complexities of young adulthood. Originally from Kenya, he became a resident of Henrico County, Virginia, after his family’s relocation to the United States when he was just four years old.
Henrico Police Department records reveal that Otieno was initially encountered by officers on March 3, responding to a possible burglary report in the suburbs. Following interactions with him, both officers and members of the local crisis intervention team invoked an emergency custody order.
After being taken into custody at Henrico County jail, Otieno exhibited aggressive behavior towards officers, leading to his arrest and subsequent transfer to Central State Hospital. He faced multiple charges, including three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, as well as charges of disorderly conduct and vandalism.
Ann Cabell Baskervill, the Commonwealth Attorney for Dinwiddie County, is overseeing the investigation into the case. The family of Irvo Otieno, deeply affected by their loss, demands transparency and accountability, urging authorities to release surveillance footage of the incident. This tragic occurrence has sparked calls for change and introspection in the country’s approach to such critical matters.