Five cops face charges months after man was paralyzed in police custody, officials say

  • In US
  • 2022-11-28 23:54:57Z
  • By Miami Herald

Five Connecticut police officers were arrested in connection to the injury of a man in police custody earlier this year.

Randy Cox, 36, was detained by New Haven police in June and fractured his spine while in the back of a police vehicle, resulting in permanent paralysis below his neck, according to previous reporting from McClatchy News.

The five officers turned themselves in to state police in Westbrook on Monday, Nov. 28, following a lengthy investigation requested by a state's attorney, according to a news release from the Connecticut State Police.

Officer Oscar Diaz, 54; Officer Ronald Pressley, 56; Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, 35, Officer Luis Rivera, 40; and Sgt. Betsy Segui, 40, were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons, according to the release.

They all posted a $25,000 bond and are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 8.

"The city of New Haven is committed to accountability for all individuals involved in this tragic incident, and today's announcement by the state's attorney is a significant step in that process," Mayor Justin Elicker said in a Nov. 28 news conference recorded by WTNH. "What happened to Randy was unacceptable and we want to do everything possible to ensure this never happens again."

"I respect the state's attorney's decision," said Police Chief Karl Jacobson at the press conference. "You're never happy when police officers are arrested but the bottom line is to be transparent and accountable and I believe this is part of the process."

The New Haven Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

On June 19, Cox was arrested on gun charges and handcuffed in the back of a transport van without seat belts, according to previous McClatchy reporting. When the vehicle made an abrupt stop, he suffered a head injury.

When Cox asked for help and said he could not move, several of the officers "mocked him and accused him of being drunk and faking his injuries," according to CBS News.

Cox was later dragged from the van and placed in a holding cell for up to 15 minutes before medical help was provided, according to previous McClatchy News reporting.

In addition to permanent paralysis, the collision left Cox with a compromised immune system and permanent muscle atrophy, among other medical problems, according to previous reporting.

"He's going to be in and out of the hospital for the rest of his life," said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, a member of Cox's legal team, at a September press conference.

In September, a lawsuit was filed against the five officers involved in the transport of Cox as well as the City of New Haven - it sought $100 million in damages, according to previous reporting.

Four of the five officers cited in the suit have claimed qualified immunity, a doctrine that protects government officials from being held liable for constitutional violations, according to WSHU. No "clearly established legal standard" had been violated, according to attorneys for the officers.

"The City of New Haven remains committed to pursuing an expedited resolution on all the issues raised in the lawsuit," said Elicker in the Nov. 28 press conference recorded by WTNH. "The city hopes the case will proceed toward an early mediation."

"This whole situation shouldn't have happened. It's ridiculous," Cox's sister, LaToya Boomer, told the New Haven Register. "Where's the humanity?"

Several other high-profile wrongful death or injury suits connected to police ended in settlements earlier this year. The city of Rochester, New York, reached a $12 million settlement with the family of a man who died in police custody, and a $5 million settlement was reached following the death of a Maryland teenager after officials said he was tackled by police.

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