Friday, December 1, 2023

Kenyan family awarded Sh1.2 billion after death of their son at a US hospital

The family of Irvo Otieno, a Kenyan man who was killed at a US hospital, has agreed to a payment of $8.5 million, equivalent to Sh1.2 billion in compensation.

The settlement filed in the Henrico County Circuit Court was approved on Tuesday by a judge, according to media reports.

Otieno, 28, died in March after being pressed to the floor for about 11 minutes by a group of sheriff’s deputies and hospital employees at a Virginia mental health facility.

His death, which was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation, saw ten defendants indicted on second-degree murder charges, but charges against two of the hospital employees were later dropped.

His family said the young man, who allegedly worked as a basketball coach, had a long history of mental health problems and was struggling to breathe while he was being held down.

On how Otieno landed into police hands, it is alleged that the young man had invaded his neighbor’s house on March 3. The neighbor informed the police, who responded swiftly and arrested Otieno.

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His mother, Caroline Ouko, said he was sick and in need of medical attention, and the police took him to a local hospital, where they placed him under an emergency order.

Police, who have defended their actions, claimed that while at the local hospital, he “became physically assaultive toward officers,” at which point they arrested him and took him to a local jail.

A video footage of the happening, however, showed that Otieno was in need of help but was responded to by brute force.  The hospital video showed sheriff’s deputies and hospital staff attempting to restrain Otieno.

Otieno was on the floor, being pinned down by the group for about 11 minutes. The video also showed unsuccessful resuscitation efforts.

An autopsy conducted by the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was a lack of oxygen, while the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

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