NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Connecticut State Police is investigating the case of the New Haven man who was paralyzed while in the custody of police last week.
Now, Richard Cox's family and legal team, including renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, intend to hold a press conference Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. on the steps of New Haven Superior Court.
Cox, 36, was arrested on June 19 for illegal possession of a firearm. As he was being taken to New Haven Police Headquarters, for booking, the officer driving the prisoner transport van stopped abruptly to avoid a crash. That's when Cox, known as Randy by friends and family, slid head first into the van's back wall, rendering him unable to move. There were no seatbelts in the transport compartment, officials said.
Several minutes later, after begging the officer to stop the van, because he was hurt, officer Oscar Diaz pulled over, checked on Cox and called for an ambulance to meet the van at the police station.
When the van arrived, officers decided to drag Cox from the van rather than wait for the ambulance to arrive.
"From what I've been informed of by the family Richard is fighting for his life," said Devin Avshalom-Smith, a member of the New Haven Board of Alders and friend of Cox and his family. "He's hanging in there. He's undergone a number of surgeries."
Cox remains on a respirator and a feeding tube, according to Avshalom-Smith, who added that Cox does have some movement in his left arm. However, there is largely paralysis from the chest down.
"And the doctors are waiting to see how the results of the surgery will play out and it will take some time," said Avhalom-Smith.
Avhalom-Smith added this injury has infuriated the community.
"I felt that Randy's humanity wasn't recognized and that he was treated in a fashion that was subhuman," the Alder said.
Two of the three New Haven police transport vans now have seatbelts installed, but all will be kept off the road until the third one does and there is significant retraining.
"And not just with how to transport individuals but more importantly how to give officers more tools to intervene if they may see another officer that's doing something that's not following procedure," said Mayor Justin Elicker.
Peter Reichard, a former assistant police chief in New Haven, pointed out that perhaps the hard braking to prevent a crash could have been avoided.
"The officer's actions were inappropriate from you know driving the prisoner conveyance fan with a cell phone in your hand texting people just not paying attention to the road," Reichard said.
Another former police chief wondered why officers in the lockup bothered to move Cox when an ambulance was on its way.
"There is a tendency sometimes for police officers to become impatient with individuals who are under arrest because sometimes they are not cooperative," said Gary MacNamara, the ex-chief of the Fairfield Police Department, who now runs public safety for Sacred Heart University.
On Monday, the New Haven Police Department, which addressed the Cox case multiple in the days following the incident, declined further comment on the particulars of the case until the criminal investigation is complete.
However, on Tuesday, Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson and Mayor Justin Elicker both stated the City, like the family, is seeking justice for Richard "Randy" Cox.
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