Family of Kenyan man killed by police in US to get Sh125m

Piece by: Gordon Orsen

• Otieno grew up in the US and spent all his school years in the country before venturing into his career of artistry.

Irvo Otieno who died at the hands of US police

The family of a Kenyan man living in the United States who was killed by police officers while in custody in March will receive $8.5 million in compensation.

Irvo Otieno, 28, who had been nursing bipolar condition, died under the choking weight of seven police officers who piled pressure on his neck and other parts of his body, to restrain him when he experienced an episode of the condition at a county jail in Richmond, Virginia.

Otieno grew up in the US and spent all his school years in the country before venturing into his career of artistry.

He was an aspiring recording artist and also worked as a basketball coach.

Video footage showed the man appearing to ask for help in his cell before the officers push through in and manhandle him out before pinning him to the floor. Hospital officials that responded to his distress did not help either.

The Dinwiddie County prosecutor, Ann Cabell Baskervill, charged the seven Henrico County Sheriff’s  deputy officers and three employees of the hospital with second-degree murder in March.

A grand jury found that they had cases to answer and put them on their defense. Their trials are pending.

But New York Times reported on Thursday that the family has reached an out of court deal with the state's government to compensate them the sum.

The paper reported that the local governor Glenn Youngkin was helpful in pushing for the amount to help alleviate the suffering that Otieno's family faced.

"Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, said in a statement that  Otieno’s death was a profound tragedy and that the governor had “pushed for a settlement with the hope that doing so proactively and fairly might alleviate—in a small way— some of the suffering that Irvo’s mother and brother faced, recognising that no settlement can take the place of a loved one,"  the paper's report reads. 

On how Otieno landed into police hands, media reports say that when he experienced the episode in March, he walked to a neighbour’s lawn, picked up some solar-powered lights laid out on the property and banged on the neighbour’s front door before his mother, Caroline Ouko, retrieved him.

The neighbour called the police from the local Henrico County station to respond to a man who was breaking in. The mother said he was sick and in need of medical attention.

The police responded and took him to a local hospital where they put him under emergency order.

The cops have defended their action by saying that Otieno turned violent and assaulted a police officer who responded to the distress call.

The cops charged him with three counts of assault on a law enforcement officer and one count each of disorderly conduct in a hospital and vandalism.

But a video footage of the happening at the county jail where Otieno was later confined and the hospital disapproved the claim by the police. It showed that Otieno was in fact in need of help but was responded to by brute force.

Otieno’s mother Ouko, has said in multiple past media interviews that all she wanted was justice for her son.

“All he needed was medical help but they treated him so wrongly. I want all those animals, seven of them, to be held accountable,” she told NBC news.

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