By: Wayne Covil
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — Multiple Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies were arrested and charged with 2nd-degree murder in connection to the in-custody death of Irvo Otieno, according to Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill.
The arrests come as Virginia State Police investigate the circumstances surrounding Otieno’s death.
While the details surrounding Otieno’s death have not yet been released, Baskervill called what happened to him a “horrible miscarriage of justice by individuals and institutions.”
She said it was important to arrest the deputies involved to “restore the public’s trust and promote public safety that people can believe in.”
“As an office, we are cooperating fully with the investigation of the Virginia State Police. Separately, we are conducting our own independent review of this incident,” Henrico Sheriff Alisa Gregory said in a statement released by the county following the arrest of her deputies. “I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Irvo Otieno. The events of March 6, at their core, represent a tragedy because Mr. Otieno’s life was lost. This loss is felt by not only those close to him but our entire community.”
She said her deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the cases against them.
“Public safety is what we stand for as a Sheriff’s Office,” her statement continued. “We will continue to maintain the highest professional standards in how we serve and protect those in our custody, the community-at-large and our staff.”
What Happened to Irvo Otieno?
Otieno, 28, died on March 6, 2023.
Henrico deputies drove Otieno from jail in Henrico to Central State Hospital, a state-run psychiatric facility in Dinwiddie County, that day.
On March 2 just after 4 p.m., Henrico Police responded to the 2200 block of Haviland Drive for a reported suspicious situation.
The complainant told officers he was concerned about his neighbor’s, who was later identified as Otieno’s, behavior.
The call was reclassified as a mental health problem after officers spoke with Otieno and a family member. No charges were placed as a result of the March 2 call for service.
Henrico Police had arrested Otieno a few days earlier, on Friday, March 3, 2023.
In an interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch, Otieno’s mother said her son was in mental distress on March 3 and she called the doctor to get help for him.
Henrico officers encountered Otieno that day after someone called the police to report a possible burglary in Henrico’s West End, according to a March 10 Henrico Police statement.
“Henrico County Police officers identified and approached [Otieno],” Henrico Police spokesperson Lt. Matt Pecka wrote in the March 10 statement about the March 3 arrest. “Based on their interaction with and observation of Otieno, [Henrico Police] officers placed him under an emergency custody order (ECO). Members of Henrico County’s Crisis Intervention Team were on the scene to assist the officers.”
Pecka said officers took Otieno to an “area hospital” for further evaluation where Otieno “became physically assaultive towards officers.”
Otieno was then arrested on charges of assaulting law enforcement, disorderly conduct, and vandalism and taken to Henrico Jail West, Pecka said.
The following Monday, March 6, Henrico County Sheriff’s Office arrived at Central State Hospital at about 4 p.m. to admit Otieno into the state-run psychiatric facility for treatment.
“It was reported to state police that [Otieno], became combative during the intake process,” Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said in a March 8 statement. “He was restrained, and later died.”
Virginia State Police were called to investigate Otieno’s death at about 7:28 p.m. on March 6.
Multiple Deputies Arrested and Charged
On Monday, March 13, the following Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies were charged with 2nd-degree murder:
- Randy Joseph Boyer, 57, of Henrico, Va.
- Dwayne Alan Bramble, 37, of Sandston, Va.
- Jermaine Lavar Branch, 45, of Henrico, Va.
- Bradley Thomas Disse, 43, of Henrico, Va.
- Tabitha Renee Levere, 50, of Henrico, Va.
- Brandon Edwards Rodgers, 48, of Henrico, Va.
- Kaivell Dajour Sanders, 30, of North Chesterfield, Va.
The charges against the deputies were defined as criminal information, the legal equivalent of an arrest warrant from a circuit court, according to Baskervill.
“Use of criminal information to render an arrest is rare in Virginia, but necessary in this particular incident,” Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said in a statement that announced the arrests. “This legal tactic is for the purpose of protecting other Henrico County jail residents. It allows for a justified and immediate removal of these seven individuals from their current capacities.”
“Mr. Otieno’s family was notified by my office this morning of these charges and I will continue to work with and for his family in relation to pursuing this case to its fullest extent,” her statement continued.”
WTVR Legal Analyst Todd Stone said this is just another way to initiate the criminal process and get the defendants picked up and out of their jobs fairly quickly.
On Tuesday, Bakersvill said she employed the legal tactic for other Henrico County Jail Residents.
“There must be some sort of evidence that makes the Commonwealth’s Attorney have some level of confidence in placing a charge like this and going out on a limb like this. Second-degree murder requires that there be some malice in their mind, like some kind of anger, vengeful motive, and then it has to be an intentional killing of another person. So we’re not talking about recklessness here. We’re talking about an intentional killing of another person,” Stone said.
The sheriff’s office personnel were booked without bond at Meherrin River Regional Jail in Brunswick County, Virginia.
The state medical examiner is working to determine Otieno’s cause and manner of death.
This story was originally published on March 14, 2023, by WTVR in Richmond, an E.W. Scripps Company.