Seven Henrico County, Virginia, sheriff’s deputies are being charged with murder over an incident that took place at a local hospital on March 6.
The officers had been physically restraining Irvo Otieno while he was admitted to the hospital, NBC News reported.
“He died of suffocation from being suffocated to deaththanks to having at least seven people, including the defendant, on top of him and holding him down,” Ann Cabell Baskervill, a Dinwiddie County Commonwealth Solicitor, said during a court hearing on Wednesday.
The court hearing was broadcast in a video broadcast by Richmond’s NBC WWBT affiliate.
The deputies are now being charged with second degree murder.
“None of them are known stalkers,” said Cary Bowen, an attorney representing defendant Jermaine Branch, who had been with the police department for 24 years.
Otieno was arrested for allegedly assaulting Henrico police officers at Parham Physicians Hospital following a burglary call days earlier.
Mark Krudys, an attorney representing Otieno’s family, said he was treated with unnecessary force.
“The family is truly heartbroken to learn of the brutal nature of Irvo’s death and his inhumane treatment in the hours leading up to his death,” the lawyer said. “The public and experienced mental health professionals will be horrified when the full facts of this case become known.”