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Family of man paralyzed in New Haven police custody calls charges against officers 'slap in the face'


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) โ€” The family of Richard “Randy” Cox and their legal team expressed their disappointment following the arrests of five police officers involved in the incident that left Cox paralyzed.

Officers arrested Cox, 36, on June 19 on a weapons charge and placed him inside a police van with no seatbelts. When the van stopped abruptly, body camera footage shows Cox being launched headfirst toward the front of the van’s holding area, smashing his head into the wall.

Despite begging for help, Cox did not receive immediate medical assistance. Officers then dragged him across the floor and placed him into a cell. The incident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Officer Oscar Diaz, Officer Ronald Pressley, Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, and Officer Luis Rivera -who have all been on administrative leave since late June – turned themselves in at a state police barracks Monday and were formally charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty, both misdemeanors. Each was processed and posted a $25,000 bond. They are due back in court on Dec. 8.

“These charges were a slap in the face,” LaToya Boomer, Cox’s sister, said Tuesday.”He was able to walk and feed himself and use his phone, and now he can’t.”

An attorney for Cox’s family, Ben Crump, said that based on the case, the five officers should be charged with felony first-degree assault.

“They got a misdemeanor slap on the wrist where they will probably see little to no jail time,” Crump said. “Randy Cox has a life sentence. How is that fair?”

Crump and the Cox family directed their message to city leaders on Tuesday.

“You’ve taken so much from him already,” Crump said. “Don’t continue to injure him with your hollow words. Let’s have real leadership. Let’s have real action.”

The family’s legal team said they were not consulted by the state’s attorney’s office or informed of the charges before they were filed.

“He [Cox] told them [the officers] he had a broken neck,” Crump said. “Randy doesn’t have any control, so how is he interfering with anything? How is he at fault for anything?”

Richard “Randy” Cox. Photo provided by Cox family.

The internal affairs investigation led by the city will now resume and determine if the officers will be fired from the New Haven Police Department.

“You can make mistakes, but you can’t treat people poorly, period,” Police Chief Karl Jacobson said at a news conference Monday. “You cannot treat people the way Mr. Cox was treated.”

Boomer spoke on behalf of her brother on Tuesday, saying, “he’s glad to see the system working. I know it’s only an arrest, but it’s a start.”

In September, Cox’s family filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against the city of New Haven and the five officers. The lawsuit alleges negligence, exceeding the speed limit, and failure to have proper restraints in the police van.

The weapons charge against Cox was dropped in October.

Four of the five officers filed motions last week claiming qualified immunity from the lawsuit, arguing that their actions did not violate any “clearly established” legal standard.

City officials announced a series of police reforms following the June incident, including eliminating police vans for most prisoner transports and using marked police vehicles instead. They also require officers to immediately call for an ambulance to respond to their location if the prisoner requests or appears to need medical aid.



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