Bronze vases vanishing from gravesites at Henrico cemetery amidst reported thefts

Bronze vases vanishing from gravesites at Henrico cemetery amidst reported thefts

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– Henrico police are investigating multiple thefts at the Washington Memorial Cemetery in Sandston.

The cemetery said about 300 bronze vases were stolen over the last six weeks. The thefts were reported to the Henrico County Police Division and they are working to contact the families who are impacted.

“We take safety and security very seriously and routinely evaluate the security needs of the cemetery. However, cemeteries are open to the public and can become targeted by criminals,” Washington Memorial Cemetery said in a statement to 8News. “It saddens us that thieves are preying on cemeteries and gravesites to commit these crimes.”

Hurley Minish visited his parents’ gravesite Thursday after hearing about the thefts.

“Shame on you for stealing off of a cemetery grave,” he said.

He also said this isn’t the first time the heavy metal has been swiped.

“I know this cemetery was hit before. I think it was mainly in the back section where it’s not really off in the road view,” Minish said. “That’s one reason why my parents’ grave is right here close to the road, and I think it’s fairly safe, but I come and check on it anyway.”

Minish said replacing one of the vases could cost up to $500.

He also calls these acts disrespectful, and he’s unsure why anyone would stop so low to steal not only from grieving families, but from those who have died.

“I hate to be a person that’s that desperate to need money, to go steal vases off of graves,” Minish said. “I think something that they really need to look into is a new way of how to try to stop it.”

Washington Memorial Cemetery is asking nearby scrap metal dealers to be wary of any new bronze that may come through their doors.

“We hope that area scrap metal dealers will be watchful for people selling bronze vases from cemetery property and will contact local law enforcement to report any suspicious activity,” the cemetery told 8News.

Henrico Police are actively investigating what items were taken from graves. If anyone may have seen or heard anything suspicious this month at the cemetery, contact Det. C. Andrews at (804) 501-4865.

Source link

Video shows Irvo Otieno at jail before in-custody death

Video shows Irvo Otieno at jail before in-custody death

Family members of Irvo Otieno and their lawyers on Tuesday called for mental health reform and steps to be taken to avoid a repeat of what happened to the 28-year-old Henrico County man who died earlier this month in a Central State Hospital intake room.

“A mental health crisis should not be a death sentence,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said during a press conference the First Baptist Church of South Richmond. “We don’t want anybody else in America whose family is dealing with a mental health crisis to be killed by the very people who are supposed to help them.”

The comments came after the release of a video from the mental hospital showing Otieno being pinned to the floor prior to his death on March 6. A Dinwiddie County grand jury on Tuesday indicted seven Henrico County deputies and three hospital workers on second-degree murder charges in a case that has garnered national attention.

Central State Hospital

In this image from a Central State Hospital camera, Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and other workers are shown with Irvo Otieno on March 6. The image was taken at 4:29 p.m.

Crump, who also represented the family of George Floyd, has said Otieno’s treatment has close parallels with Floyd’s killing in police custody in Minneapolis in 2020.

“It is not lost on anybody who saw that video today, the fact that it was so unnecessary,” Crump said Tuesday. “Irvo was handcuffed at the wrist, he had leg irons on, he was facedown. Why did they feel it was necessary to put all their weight on him, for some of the officers to put their knee on his neck?”

Caleb Kershner, a defense attorney for deputy Randy Boyer, was critical of the video being released and took issue with Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill.

“It’s going to be more difficult to find a jury that has not been tainted or read a particular news story of any sort. So I’m disappointed in it,” he said earlier Tuesday after the court hearing in Dinwiddie County.

Otieno’s mother Caroline Ouko on Tuesday called the indicted deputies and hospital employees “thugs” and “monsters.”

“I was happy to hear that they were indicted,” Ouko said. “That is just the beginning step.”

The following video shows Irvo Otieno on March 6 at the Central State Hospital. Read more coverage here:

Attorney Mark Krudys said he was troubled by the individuals who stood by and watched as the officers pushed down on Otieno.

“Everybody has an obligation to intervene in that circumstance, to say ‘no, that’s not right,’” Krudys said. “But nobody intervened. And then when his body was lifeless, and his pants were dangling on him, they didn’t do anything for an appreciable period of time.”

Krudys said his team is looking into possible body camera footage from Henrico police regarding a March 3 incident, when Otieno was transported from his Henrico home to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.

Ouko said she was excluded in the process of advocating for her son, noting that she made four attempts to see him while he was at Henrico hospital.

“In mental health and mental distress, your child needs you,” Ouko said. “Seeing me could have made have made a big difference.”

Instead, Otieno was taken to the Henrico Jail and later to Central State. Krudys said the deputies were not wearing body cameras at either location.

Henrico NAACP Vice President Monica Hutchinson during the Tuesday press conference said: “Jail is not, nor has it ever been, the best place for those having a mental health crisis. We must eliminate the use of jail as a response to a mental health crisis and mental illness, and instead work to improve access to community-based crisis centers.”

Otieno’s brother Leon Ochieng urged Gov. Glenn Youngkin to make mental health a priority, pointing out Youngkin’s recent comments calling Otieno’s death “heart-wrenching.”

“If you really do empathize and feel what we feel, do something,” Ochieng said. “Let your state be an example … all we need to do is make this an agenda to put pressure on lawmakers to invite our communities to have families who are ambassadors for mental health.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in a social media post on Tuesday said: “Irvo Otieno should be alive today. His life was taken in a place where he should have been safe. We need accountability and we need more mental health resources.” 

Read the story at

Source link

Fairfax County police release video of deadly officer-involved shooting outside Tysons Corner Center

Fairfax County police release video of deadly officer-involved shooting outside Tysons Corner Center

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WRIC/7NEWS) — Fairfax County Police Department has released surveillance and body camera footage captured from a deadly officer-involved shooting that occurred outside a shopping mall in February.

At the time of the shooting, police said that 37-year-old Timothy McCree Johnson was accused of stealing designer sunglasses from a Nordstrom store at Tysons Corner Center prior to the shooting.

Officers responded and saw Johnson run across a parking lot into a wooded area around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22. After chasing Johnson and repeatedly instructing him to get on the ground, two officers opened fire and shot Johnson in the chest once, according to police.

First aid was provided to Johnson by officers until Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units arrived to take him to a nearby hospital where he died.

The Fairfax County Police Department reported that both officers were veterans with at least seven years of experience who had been assigned to the Tysons Urban Team. Both were placed on restricted duty pending investigation, as part of the department’s policy.

According to the Associated Press, the officer who fired the fatal round has been dismissed from the department, and the other officer remains on restricted duty as the investigation continues.

The officer who was fired, Sgt. Wesley Shifflett, exhibited “a failure to live up to the expectations of our agency, in particular use of force policies,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said.

“Timothy was unarmed and shoplifting,” his mother, Melissa Johnson told 7News earlier this month. “What played out on the news was a judge, jury and an execution-style murder.”

Timothy Johnson was shot and killed by Fairfax County police officers outside Tysons Corner Center on the evening of February 22. (Image Courtesy: Johnson Family/7NEWS

The new video released by the Fairfax County Police Department shows the moments leading up to the shooting, including Johnson’s arrival at the mall and the subsequent foot chase with officers.

Source link

Attorneys for Irvo Otieno's family push back against officers' defense

Attorneys for Irvo Otieno's family push back against officers' defense

As a video was released publicly this week showing sheriff’s deputies and employees of Central State Hospital pinning Irvo Otieno to the floor, attorneys for several of the defendants charged with second-degree murder in his death began to weigh in to defend their clients.

During bond hearings and through statements, lawyers sought to distinguish their clients from the mass of bodies involved in holding Otieno to the floor for over 10 minutes.

One said in court that his client only worked to secure leg irons on Otieno, while another said his client put his body weight on the man for just a short period of time and then tried to position Otieno on his side so he would not have trouble breathing.

People are also reading…

Some defense attorneys also said their clients were only trying to restrain Otieno and there was no evidence of an intent to kill the 28-year-old Black man as deputies sought to have him admitted to the mental hospital on March 6.

“At no time did he realize that Mr. Otieno … was in any danger whatsoever,” said attorney Caleb Kershner, who represents one of the seven Henrico County deputies who have been charged, along with three hospital employees.

Family members of Irvo Otieno and their lawyers on Tuesday called for mental health reform and steps to be taken to avoid a repeat of what happened to the 28-year-old Henrico County man who died earlier this month in a Central State Hospital intake room. 

But Otieno’s family and their lawyers, including prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, pushed back against any attempt to minimize the role they say individuals in the crowded room played in Otieno’s death.

During a press conference Tuesday evening, family attorney Mark Krudys quoted some of the language used by defense counsel during bond hearings earlier that day, including a description of Otieno as being in obvious need of medical attention.

“Despite that they piled on him,” Krudys said. “Ten individuals.”

Krudys and Crump said the defense attorneys were offering “excuses” for what the video showed while trying to cast Otieno, who was shackled and handcuffed, as combative.

“They are trying to say … ‘Well, he was struggling. Well, he was still resisting.’ No he wasn’t. He was trying to breathe,” Crump said at the news conference, which was punctuated by sobs from Otieno’s mother.

Attorneys: Otieno was resistant

Otieno’s family has said he was brutally mistreated not only at the hospital where he died but also while in law enforcement custody beforehand.

Otieno, whose family said he had long-running mental health struggles, was initially taken to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital by police for psychiatric care March 3. But after authorities said he became combative, he was criminally charged and transferred to the jail. His family says he was denied access to needed medication during his time there.

News outlets, including The Times-Dispatch, obtained video this week of the events that preceded Otieno’s death at the state mental hospital in Dinwiddie County. The prosecutor had previously shown the footage, for which there is no audio, to Otieno’s relatives and attorneys.

According to timestamps, an SUV carrying Otieno arrived at the hospital just before 4 p.m. March 6.

In court, defense attorneys said that before he arrived there he was resistant. One said it took approximately 12 officers to get Otieno out of his cell at the jail.

Video from the hospital shows that nearly 20 minutes after the SUV’s arrival, officers remove Otieno from the vehicle and escort him inside. He appears to be upright but hunched over.

By 4:19., a different camera shows him being forcibly led into a room with tables and chairs. He is hauled toward a seat and eventually slumps to the floor, first seated and then lying flat.

Irvo N. Otieno (copy)


An increasing number of people become involved in holding Otieno down. At times his shirtless body is obscured by the sheer number of bodies or by someone standing front of the camera.

The Rev. Al Sharpton asked to deliver eulogy at Otieno funeral

The case has garnered national attention, and Crump has also represented families in high-profile police killings including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

The Rev. Al Sharpton also has been asked to deliver the eulogy at Otieno’s funeral, his National Action Network said Wednesday. Details have not been announced.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., in a tweet on Wednesday called for actions to “improve how we handle mental and behavioral health crises.”

“Horrified by the senseless murder of Irvo Otieno and thinking about his loved ones. A full and thorough investigation is necessary,” he said.

Said Mark Warner, D-Va., in a Twitter post: “Irvo Otieno should be alive today. While I’m glad to see swift oversight of the circumstances surrounding his death, we absolutely must have better practices in place to ensure folks in mental health crisis are supported and safe. We must stop these senseless tragedies.”

Steve Benjamin, a Richmond criminal defense attorney who serves as special counsel to the Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee and is not involved with the case, said the video by itself is not enough to determine the criminal culpability of the deputies or hospital workers.

“We don’t know if those who were observing were saying to the deputies, ‘Get off him, he can’t breathe.’ We don’t know if he was saying he couldn’t breathe or if he was threatening violence to those who were trying to restrain him. We simply have no idea,” Benjamin said.

Mental Health Patient Death

This still from the video provided by Central State Hospital and Dinwiddie County shows deputies and hospital employees on top of Otieno, who lies on the floor at Central State Hospital, on March 6 in Petersburg. Footage obtained Tuesday, which has no audio, shows various members of sheriff’s deputies and employees attempting to restrain a handcuffed and shackled Otieno for about 20 minutes after he’s led into a room at the hospital, where he was going to be admitted.

“Our reaction to that video is human and natural,” he said, “but it doesn’t go very far in answering the question of, ‘was there a criminal offense committed here?’”

In Virginia case law, second-degree murder is generally defined as the malicious killing of another, meaning the conduct must be so likely to cause death or serious injury that it demonstrates utter and callous disregard for life.

The first charges in the case were announced last week against the deputies, followed by the hospital workers two days later. Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill said in an email Wednesday that while she doesn’t have additional charges “in the pipeline,” the state police investigation remains ongoing.

A separate investigation into the events preceding Otieno’s death — at both the hospital and the jail — is also ongoing, according to Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor.

This is a timeline of events regarding the death of Irvo N. Otieno, 28, from the initial complaint in his Henrico neighborhood on March 2, to his death at Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County on March 6.

All 10 defendants have been granted bond and have pre-trial hearings set for late April or May.

Final autopsy findings have not been released. Baskervill has said in court that Otieno died of asphyxiation, though some defense attorneys have raised the possibility that injections administered at the hospital may have played a role.

Richmond television station WRIC reported Wednesday that Dinwiddie Circuit Court Judge Joseph M. Teefey Jr. denied a request by lawyers of one of the charged deputies to prevent Otieno’s body from being released. Attorneys for Kaiyell Dajour Sanders, 30, of North Chesterfield, filed a motion to keep the body available in case a second a second autopsy would be pursued after the medical examiner’s autopsy report was issued.

Source link

D.C. jail guard pleads guilty in drug smuggling, bribery case

D.C. jail guard pleads guilty in drug smuggling, bribery case

WASHINGTON, DC (WRIC) — A D.C. jail guard who oversaw an entire housing unit has pleaded guilty alongside an accomplice who schemed with her to smuggle drugs into the district’s central detention facility.

Beverly Williams, 52, was a D.C. corrections officer and corporal who “was the Officer-in-Charge for shift’s in DOC’s Central Detention Facility,” according to a statement of facts submitted as part of her plea agreement.

Williams conspired with Keywaune McLeod, 28, a D.C. resident, and Andre Gregory, 31, his cousin and an inmate at the facility, to move drugs and other contraband into the jail.

In one call Gregory made from jail in June 2022, he asked Mcleod, “Is it possible somebody could meet you and drop something off at MGM?”

In other conversations later that year, Gregory said to Mcleod, “I told slim mother [referencing Williams] 7:00 o’clock so she going to meet you with that at 6:00.”

Gregory also repeatedly instructed Mcleod, using coded language, on how much to pay Williams for her assistance.

In one typical handoff in August 2022, Williams met Mcleod in front of a local high school, took a package of drugs from him and then drove to her shift at the jail. Although Williams was searched when she entered the jail, she was able to conceal the drugs on her person.

Then, she entered a housing unit under the guise of a security check, slipped into a shower area — where there were no cameras — then emerged a few moments later. Shortly afterwards, Gregory enters and leaves the same area.

Williams was paid $500 for that exchange, which Mcleod and Gregory also discussed on a jail phone line after the handoff was completed.

The scheme eventually unraveled when Williams was caught in September 2022 with two packages containing weed and pills concealed in her uniform.

Gregory is still awaiting a plea hearing in D.C. court.

Unmentioned in the plea agreement, but alleged in an affidavit filed with the initial charges, was an apparent intimate relationship between Gregory and Williams. At one point, in an apparent reference to Williams, Gregory told Mcleod he would “put a ring on that junk” when released.

The affidavit also spoke to a potential monetary motive for Williams, who investigators confirmed was a frequent customer at the MGM casino in Maryland — a frequent site of handovers between her and Mcleod.

Source link