Rev. Al Sharpton to speak at funeral of man pinned down by deputies at Virginia mental hospital
CHESTERFIELD, Va. - The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at the funeral of a 28-year-old Black man who died after he was pinned to the floor by seven sheriff's deputies and several others while he was being admitted to a mental hospital in Virginia.
Sharpton's National Action Network, a civil rights organization, announced plans for the funeral of Irvo Otieno on Wednesday at the First Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) south of Richmond.
Video released publicly last week shows sheriff's deputies and hospital employees attempting to restrain a handcuffed and shackled Otieno for about 20 minutes after he’s led into a room at Central State Hospital, where he was going to be admitted March 6. For much of that time, Otieno is on the floor being held down by a fluctuating group that at one point appeared to reach 10 people.
Seven deputies and three hospital workers have been charged with second-degree murder in Otieno’s death. Otieno's family has said he was brutally mistreated, both at the state hospital and while in a county jail for several days before that.
Dinwiddie Commonwealth's Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill has said Otieno was smothered to death. An autopsy is still pending.
Attorneys for the defendants have said their clients were trying to restrain Otieno. During bond hearings and in statements, several defense attorneys have sought to distinguish their clients from the mass of bodies involved in holding Otieno to the floor for more than 10 minutes.
The National Action Network said civil rights attorney Ben Crump — one of the Otieno family's attorneys — will issue a "national call for justice" at Otieno's funeral.
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