Family demands justice after Connecticut man suffers serious injury in police van, becomes paralyzed

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The family of a man seriously injured while in the custody of police in New Haven, Connecticut, joined his legal team outside the city’s courthouse Tuesday, demanding justice.

The attorney for Richard “Randy” Cox, 36, said Cox is paralyzed from the chest down. He is currently on a ventilator and unable to speak, his family said.

On June 19, New Haven police officers responded to a block party following a report of Cox carrying a gun. Officers arrested Cox for unlawfully possessing a firearm.

While being transported in a van with no seatbelts, police said Officer Oscar Diaz stopped abruptly to avoid a crash. In video from the back of the van, Cox is seen going head-first into the back wall of the vehicle and calling for help.

Diaz continued to the detention center, where officers found Cox lying on the floor of the van, unable to move. Video shows officers dragging Cox out of the vehicle by his feet and putting him in a wheelchair. Cox was then taken to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

His family said what happened on June 19 has changed their lives forever. They called for action.

“I’m calling for the officers involved to be fired and arrested,” Cox’s sister said. “I’m calling for any bystanders that didn’t say anything to be suspended and retained. See something, say something!”

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, known for representing the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, joined attorney Jack O’Donnell, Scot X. Esdaile, the president of the NAACP Connecticut State Conference, and Cox’s family at Tuesday’s press conference.

“This is a man who has said, ‘I can’t move my neck; I can’t move my arms,'” Crump said. “Are you going to try and act like Randy Cox’s life doesn’t matter, or are you going to do the right thing?”

Randy Cox is pictured in a hospital bed after suffering a severe injury in the back of a New Haven police van. (LaToya Boomer)

Diaz and four other members of the New Haven Police Department are on paid administrative leave as state police continue investigating the incident.

“Mr. Cox was mistreated. He should have received medical attention immediately. We can’t defend anything that was released,” said Assistant Chief Karl Jacobson of the New Haven Police Department.

“We need to ensure that we’re empowering more officers to have the tools that they need and the culture to say to another officer, even if it may be an officer that oversees them, ‘Hang on, are we doing the right thing here?'” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

Elicker added in a news release that Cox underwent surgery after his accident, but may continue to remain paralyzed.

New Haven police said the department has made changes, including taking every van with no seatbelts out of rotation and implementing training to ensure this never happens again.

Cox’s legal team said they are looking at every possible legal action. They intend to file a lawsuit within 60 days, and hope to meet with city officials soon.

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