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Charges reduced against 3 facing prosecution in man’s death during admission to psychiatric hosptial

RICHMOND, Va. — Second-degree murder charges against two sheriff’s deputies and a hospital worker have been reduced to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a Virginia man who was pinned to the floor for about 11 minutes while being admitted to a state psychiatric hospital.

The downgrading of the charges in the 2023 death of Irvo Otieno comes just weeks after prosecutors withdrew charges against five other sheriff’s deputies, a move criticized by Otieno’s family.

Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man, died in March 2023 after he was restrained by Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and hospital workers while he was being admitted to Central State Hospital. Prosecutors initially charged 10 people with second-degree murder, but withdrew charges against a total of seven people, leaving just three people facing prosecution.

On Wednesday, an amended indictment was filed downgrading the charge to involuntary manslaughter against two sheriff’s deputies, Brandon Rodgers and Kaiyell Sanders, and hospital employee Wavie Jones, according to online court records.

Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Mann did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Doug Ramseur, an attorney for Jones, and Linwood Wells, an attorney for Sanders, declined to comment. Attorney Michael W. Lee, who represents Rodgers, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Otieno was taken into custody in suburban Richmond during a mental health crisis. He was initially transported to a private hospital but later jailed after law enforcement officials said he became combative. He was then transferred to Central State Hospital, where he was restrained during the admissions process.

His death was captured on video, sparking outrage and calls for mental health and law enforcement reforms. The state medical examiner’s office ruled Otieno’s death a homicide, finding that he died of “positional and mechanical asphyxia with restraints.”

Mark Krudys, a lawyer representing Otieno’s family, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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