Virginia’s governor speaks out about the death of Irvo Otieno

Virginia’s Governor is speaking publicly for the first time about the death of Ivro Otieno.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 2:02 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia’s governor is speaking publicly for the first time about the death of Irvo Otieno.

“First of all, I just want to ask everybody to lift up his family with prayers. I can’t image what they’re going through. There is a judicial process going on, and we have to fully respect that. I ask everyone to please peacefully respect that,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin, (R) Virginia.

The governor is also quick to say if he will watch the March surveillance video of the incident.

“I will watch the tape when it’s released. I will watch the tape when it’s released. I absolutely will,” said Gov. Youngkin.

That video, from Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County, allegedly shows Otieno face-down on the ground in handcuffs and leg irons for 12 minutes with seven deputies on him as he died.

The governor said it’s still too early to discuss any potential, immediate changes that could be made to prevent another death like Otieno’s.

“Matching what we’re doing with the specific circumstances here hasn’t been done yet. As I’ve said, there’s an extensive work going on to support the investigation,” said Gov. Youngkin.

In December, Youngkin announced the Right Help, Right Now plan, proposing a transformational three-year plan to fix the state’s behavioral health care system.

“It is overwhelmed right now, and it is overwhelmed in so many ways, and that’s why substantially investing in pre-crisis and in-crisis and post-crisis capacity and services is so important,” said Gov. Youngkin.

His plan would cost $230 million. The money will fund several initiatives, including $20 million for mobile crisis teams, $58 million to increase the number of Crisis Receiving Centers, $9 million to expand tele-behavioral health inside schools, and another $15 million to expand school-based mental health services.

“This is comprehensive, and I’ve been very clear there is no magic wand here or single program that fixes all of this. It’s a multi-year investment,” said Gov. Youngkin.

Funding for the mental health system overhaul is still being held up by the General Assembly, which is deadlocked over the state’s budget.