Mom: Irvo Otieno was ‘sensible and inventive and shiny’

Irvo Otieno had realized his ardour: making hip-hop. He may write a track in lower than 5 minutes. And he was streaming his music below the moniker “Younger Vo,” whereas working towards beginning his personal document label.

“He had discovered his factor — you understand that feeling if you discover your factor?” his mom Caroline Ouko informed reporters Thursday. “He would go in his room and shut the door. And he had it — he was sensible and inventive and shiny.”

However, the mom added, “All I am left with is his voice.”

Ouko remembered her son’s life at an hourlong information convention that targeted totally on his demise March 6 at a state psychological hospital in Virginia.

Ouko had simply considered video of Otieno’s ultimate minutes as he was being admitted to Central State Hospital south of Richmond, throughout which she and her attorneys say sheriff’s deputies smothered him, urgent him down till his physique was “clearly lifeless.” His legs and arms have been certain, they mentioned, however he posed no risk to the deputies and hospital staff who’ve since been charged with second-degree homicide.

Otieno’s biography is now coming to the fore, not for his music, however due to the shockingly inhumane method during which authorities say he was killed. He was yet one more Black man to die in police custody in a case that outstanding civil-rights legal professional Ben Crump, who can also be representing Ouko, mentioned harshly echoes the earlier deaths of such males as George Floyd. Crump represented Floyd’s household and the kinfolk of different Black males killed below related circumstances.

Otieno, who was 28, got here to the U.S. from Kenya on the age of 4 however he “was as American as apple pie,” his mom mentioned.

As a baby in class, he was the kind of man who would invite a pupil consuming lunch alone to hitch him, and classmates who wanted somebody to speak to have been drawn to him, she mentioned. He was a frontrunner and a listener, somebody who took the time to course of what was being mentioned and would then “lean again in,” Ouko mentioned.

“He cared that folks have been handled proper,” she mentioned. “That was on the core of his upbringing in our house. He cared that folks have been handled equally.”

She added that Otieno wasn’t afraid to supply totally different views in conversations, to go the opposite method “when all people else is following.”

Otieno started coping with some psychological well being points throughout his final yr of highschool, his mom mentioned. However she mentioned he additionally went to school in California, and “had lengthy stretches the place you would not even know one thing was flawed.”

There have been occasions, although, when he went “into some type of misery” and wanted to see a health care provider, she mentioned. Ouko declined to share her son’s analysis, saying solely that he had gone to a psychological well being facility earlier than and “got here again house.”

“That is the query that I am asking: why he did not come again house,” she mentioned.

Otieno was taken into custody March 3, in accordance with a timeline offered by Henrico County Police, a separate entity from the Henrico County Sheriff’s Workplace.

The police division mentioned in a information launch that officers encountered Otieno whereas responding to a report of a potential housebreaking in suburban Richmond, and that primarily based on his habits, they put him below an emergency custody order and took him to a neighborhood hospital for analysis.

Mark Krudys, considered one of Ouko’s attorneys, mentioned that Otieno was experiencing a psychological well being disaster on the time. He mentioned a neighbor known as police over issues about him gathering garden lights from a yard.

Otieno’s mom tried to de-escalate the preliminary response from cops, with the second captured on a neighbor’s cellphone, Crump mentioned.

“Caroline is hugging her baby, as if she’s attempting to guard him from these individuals who may not see him like she sees him,” he mentioned.

Added Krudys: “She was imploring them (to) deal with him appropriately, carry him to a hospital. And he was vacuumed into the legal justice system, for which there was no care that was offered, that we noticed.”

Whereas he was on the hospital, police mentioned he “grew to become bodily assaultive towards officers, who arrested him” and took him to a neighborhood jail managed by the Henrico Sheriff’s Workplace, the place he was charged with a number of crimes.

Whereas Otieno was in jail, he was denied entry to wanted medicines, the household attorneys mentioned. Crump mentioned he was pepper-sprayed, and Krudys mentioned the video confirmed officers on March 6 charging into his jail cell, which was lined in feces and the place he lay bare and handcuffed.

The video reveals officers carrying an “virtually lifeless” Otieno out by his legs and arms “like an animal” to a automobile to be taken to the state hospital, Crump mentioned.

Leon Ochieng, Otieno’s older brother, mentioned at Thursday’s information convention that his mom cannot sleep or eat.

“Our hearts are damaged,” he mentioned. “However our spirts are sturdy. And my brother’s spirit isn’t performed.”

A distraught Ouko mentioned that, “Once they took my child away … they took him away from his brother. They took him away from his nieces. They took him away from his pals. They usually took him away from a group that cared (for) and cherished him.”


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