Family of man paralyzed in New Haven police custody calls for criminal charges
The family of a man paralyzed in New Haven police custody promised a lawsuit Tuesday, and called for officers to face criminal charges.
The incident happened on Father’s Day. New Haven Police arrested Richard “Randy” Cox on a weapons charge, placing him in the back of a transport van with no seat belt. After Officer Oscar Diaz braked hard, graphic video shows Cox’s head violently slamming into the back the van.
Cox’s family says he is now paralyzed from the chest down with only limited use of one arm. He is on a breathing tube.
Cox’s mother broke down in tears during a Tuesday morning news conference outside New Haven Superior Court.
"I don't want to see my son in that damn room with that thing on his neck or his face,” said Doreen Coleman.
After the accident, video shows Cox pleading for help and telling officers he thinks his neck is broken. Instead of stopping for help, Diaz takes Cox to the police station, where a supervisor forces him into a wheelchair with his head and body limp. When Cox can’t stand, officers drag him to a holding cell. Eventually, paramedics arrive.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker says the video is disturbing.
"Based on what I have seen in the video footage, I found several of the actions taken -- and some of the actions not taken -- by the officers to be quite concerning,” he said on June 23.
Diaz and detention facility supervisor Sgt. Betsy Segui are now on paid administrative leave along with three other officers: Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier, and Luis Rivera. Connecticut State Police are currently investigating their actions.
“We have a policy that says, if someone's in distress in a wagon, you pull over, you call for medical assistance and you wait,” New Haven Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson said on June 23. “He didn't do that."
Cox’s case is now getting national attention. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is joining their legal effort.
Crump represented the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
"Why didn't they believe George Floyd when he said, 'I can't breathe'?,” Crump said Tuesday. "And why didn't the New Haven police officers believe Randy Cox when he said, 'I can't move'?"
Crump and Cox’s family want to know if the van driver was on his cell phone and even speeding before the incident.
"I started watching the videos and the treatment of him was a disgrace,” said LaToya Boomer, Cox’s sister. “I’m calling for the officers involved to be fired and arrested. I’m calling for any bystanders that didn’t say anything to be suspended and retained. See something, say something.”
Cox's family they plan to a federal lawsuit against the city in the next 60 days. They're also asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate.