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New Haven man injured in police custody remains paralyzed: Attorney

The family's local attorney, Jack O'Donnell, told FOX61 late Friday afternoon Richard Cox underwent his second cervical spine surgery of the week earlier in the day.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Richard Cox, the 36-year-old New Haven man paralyzed while in the custody of New Haven police Sunday night remains unconscious as his family prepares to file a lawsuit with the assistance of a high-profile national attorney, Benjamin Crump.

The family's local attorney, Jack O'Donnell, told FOX61 late Friday afternoon Richard Cox underwent his second cervical spine surgery of the week earlier that day. He remains intubated, not conscious and he is paralyzed from his mid-chest down.

"What we’ve been seeing here from the New Haven Police Department over the last few years is that there is a lack of supervision on the front line," said John Velleca, a retired New Haven cop, who now teaches criminal justice at Albertus Magnus College.

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He said this tragedy might have been avoided if the prisoner transport van driver, officer Oscar Diaz, followed protocol with Richard Cox.

"He’s supposed to give an instruction to the passenger and say listen sit down, hold the strap in back because that’s the only way you’re gonna be secure," Velleca said.

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Prior to this incident, two of the three New Haven prisoner transport vans had no seat belts. Now that has changed, but only after Cox was thrown into a van wall as a result of an abrupt stop, critically injuring him.

"I think in any way in any respect there's gonna be some big problems for the police department just simply because of the fact that he's paralyzed that he wasn't prior to him being in their custody," said attorney Frank Riccio, a criminal defense attorney.

It remains unclear whether Cox was injured more as a result of officers deciding to pull him from the van rather than waiting for an ambulance that was enroute.

"Sometimes the subjects they arrest are not helpful and they are sometimes combative but he was asked multiple times to move his leg or move his arm and he barely could do that," said Riccio.

RELATED: 3 additional New Haven officers put on leave after man injured in police van

O'Donnell says the FBI is in the process of deciding whether they will become the lead investigators, a role currently held by state police.

Crump, who has represented multiple Connecticut residents in recent years, joined the Cox legal team Thursday and will be in New Haven for a press conference next Tuesday.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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