NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Three other New Haven police officers have been placed on administrative leave amid an ongoing investigation into how a man was seriously injured in the back of a police van and dragged around the police station before being taken to a hospital, authorities said.
New Haven Acting Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said in a statement Thursday that all officers involved in the transport and handling of Richard Cox on June 19 should be placed on administrative leave for potential breaches of police protocol.
“The handling of Mr. Cox was unacceptable; it does not reflect the high standards we hold ourselves to at the New Haven Police Department,” Rush-Kittle said. “The department remains committed to doing everything in our power to make sure an incident of this nature never happens again.”
Cox, 36, of New Haven, was arrested on a gun charge Sunday.
Police department officials said Officer Oscar Diaz did not follow a department policy that requires officers to call for medical assistance and wait for paramedics when someone is in distress in a police vehicle. Diaz braked hard to avoid an accident, injuring Cox.
Cox, who is Black, also was handcuffed when he was in the back of the New Haven police van, and there were no seat belts. He flew headfirst into a wall when Diaz braked hard to avoid an accident, police said. A camera recorded the moments when Cox was injured.
Diaz then resumed driving to the police department despite Cox calling for help and saying he was injured and couldn't move, according to the video and officials. A few minutes later, Diaz stopped the van to check on Cox, who was lying motionless on the floor.
Diaz then called paramedics but told them to meet him at the station instead of waiting for them, New Haven Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson said at a news conference Tuesday said.
At the station, officers dragged Cox out of the van by his feet and put him in a wheelchair, video shows. Police then booked Cox, took him out of the wheelchair and dragged him into a cell, where he was left on the floor, video shows.
Paramedics arrived minutes later and took Cox to a hospital, officials said.
He was being treated at a hospital and there was a chance he could be permanently paralyzed, Mayor Justin Elicker said earlier this week.
RELATED: Investigation underway after man seriously injured in back of New Haven police transport van
Diaz and Sgt. Betsy Segui, who works in the department's detention area, were the first officers placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
The three other officers placed on leave are Officer Ronald Pressley, Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, and Officer Luis Rivera, who officials said were all present in the detention facility and were all involved in the handling of Cox.
“The way in which Mr. Cox was treated, transported and handled by the officers involved in this incident at the police detention center was completely unacceptable,” Elicker said in a statement Thursday. “Anyone that comes into custody of the New Haven Police Department should be treated with dignity and respect and cared for in a manner than ensures their safety and well-being. In my judgement, the actions of the officers involved in this incident fell far short of that and I strongly support Acting Chief Rush-Kittle’s decision to put all the officers involved on administrative leave while the Connecticut State Police continues its investigation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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