'A slap in the face:' Family of Randy Cox say they're outraged with misdemeanor charges against officers
The family of Randy Cox, the Black man paralyzed in New Haven police custody this summer, expressed outrage on Tuesday after five officers were charged with misdemeanors.
"It is a slap in the face" asked Cox's sister, LaToya Boomer. "If this was me and my kids were at home and one of them got hurt, and I didn't even have nothing to do with it and they broke their neck – and I didn't take them to the hospital – I would be arrested on the spot."
Officers Oscar Diaz, Betsy Segui, Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera were all charged with reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons on Monday. Because they are misdemeanors, the officers could potentially qualify for "accelerated rehabilitation," which would eventually clear their criminal records.
"They got a misdemeanor slap on the wrist when they'll probably see little to no jail time, and Randy Cox has a life sentence," said Cox's attorney, national civil rights lawyer Ben Crump.
Cox was paralyzed inside a police transport van with no seat belts on June 19. Body camera video shows Diaz, who was driving, slam on the brakes to avoid a car that ran a stop sign.
Another camera shows Cox thrown into a metal door and immediately yelling for help. According to an arrest warrant, Diaz waited several minutes to pull over and call an ambulance. Prosecutors say, instead of waiting for medical assistance, Diaz drove Cox to the police station, where the other officers forced Cox into a wheelchair before dragging him to a holding cell.
Cox was originally arrested for carrying a loaded handgun. Prosecutors later dropped that charge.
Cox's family has filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against the officers and the city of New Haven. In a response, the city blamed Cox for "contributory negligence." Despite that, Mayor Justin Elicker insisted Tuesday that he wants to settle the case.
"We all want to resolve this in a settlement," said Elicker, but "it is incumbent upon the city, as we have these conversations with Randy's attorneys, to preserve our rights."
As for the officers, in legal filings several argue their actions were "objectively reasonable." Segui's response blamed Cox's injuries on his "own negligence and carelessness" because he "failed to comply with the lawful commands of officers on scene."
"They said that Randy interfered with the investigation? I mean, what video are they looking at?" said Crump.
All five cops are on paid leave while an internal investigation continues.
"I don't have a timeline, but obviously this is important, right? So we're going to move as quickly as possible," said New Haven police chief Karl Jacobson.
Jacobson can only recommend whether to fire the officers. New Haven's police commission will make the final call.
Cox's family says time is running out. They say he's already racked up "millions" in medical bills, and faces up to $20 million in lifetime expenses. Cox's attorney said is currently at a West Haven rehab facility and requires around-the-clock care.
"He has to ring a call bell just to ask for a sip of water," said Boomer. "The cup is sitting right next to him, but he can't pick it up."
The five officers' first court date is Dec. 8. The Connecticut NAACP said it is mobilizing a large crowd of protesters to greet them.