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Close-up of Police Badge and Handcuffs
Press Statement March 21, 2023

NAACP Reacts to the Murder Of Irvo Otieno, Charges Filed Against Officers & Hospital Staff

Close-up of Police Badge and Handcuffs


March 21, 2023

Contact: Jonah Bryson,

WASHINGTON — Following the release of the footage capturing the law enforcement and hospital staff attacking Irvo Otieno, a 28-year-old Black man, and the subsequent second-degree murder charges levied against those involved, NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson released this statement:

"Let me be clear – mental illness is not a crime. Being a Black man in America is not a crime. We're reliving the same feelings of despair we felt after we witnessed the murder of George Floyd. For eleven minutes, Irvo Otieno was attacked while both his wrists and legs were restrained. For eleven minutes, not one of the ten individuals who watched him die stopped to consider that no individual deserves to be treated the way that Irvo was. Even now, none of those involved can explain how an unresponsive man could be considered aggressive or how the situation could have warranted such an inhumane and violent response. The NAACP commends the Dinwiddie County prosecutors for releasing the footage and charging all seven deputies and three hospital staff who are directly responsible for Irvo's death. 

No person should ever face this level of violence from those who are meant to 'serve and protect' and treat people facing mental health crises. It is past time for Congress to develop clear, comprehensive policies for policing standards and expand funding for mental health resources. Police are simply not a substitute for compassionate and informed mental health professionals. Rather than neglecting and criminalizing the Black community, we need action to make sure no one experiences or witnesses this kind of violence at the hands of law enforcement ever again. This has to end here – we are done dying."



The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.