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'Fight for justice': Family of man severely injured in New Haven police van to hold news conference

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New Haven Police Department
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New Haven Police Department
A screenshot from New Haven Police Department body camera footage shows a grimacing Richard Cox being lifted into a wheelchair by NHPD officers. Cox, 36, was severely injured and likely paralyzed moments before while being en route to NHPD headquarters in a transport van. Cox's head slammed into the front interior wall of the van after the driver braked suddenly. Cox is in the hospital and several NHPD officers are on paid leave while the incident is being investigated.

The family of the 36 year-old man severely injured and potentially paralyzed while in New Haven police custody will hold a news conference Tuesday morning.

The family will be joined by Richard "Randy" Cox's attorney, Ben Crump. He was part of the legal team that represented George Floyd's family.

Five New Haven police officers have been placed on paid leave while the June 19 incident is being investigated.

Cox was injured in the back of a police transport van when one of the officers said he braked to avoid an accident. Cox was later dragged into a police holding cell before being taken to a hospital with signs of paralysis, authorities said.

Crump said Cox's quality of life "will forever be diminished" by the New Haven police officers.

"Law enforcement respecting every life they interact with and are responsible for is imperative for building trust with the communities they serve, especially communities of color," Crump said in a statement. "As Randy Cox continues to fight for his life and future, we will fight for justice for him, his family, and the New Haven community."

Video via Associated Press (contains graphic content)

New Haven police officers put on leave after man injured in custody

Three of the police officers were placed on leave last week. Acting Police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said last week the officers had been assigned to work Sunday in the New Haven Police detention facility where Cox was taken after being arrested on a gun charge.

“While the Connecticut State Police continues to take the lead on the investigation of the incident involving Mr. Richard Cox, after careful consideration of the video footage I saw, I have made the determination that all of the officers involved in the transport and handling of Mr. Cox when he arrived at our detention facility should be placed on administrative leave for potential breaches of police protocol,” Rush-Kittle said in a written statement.

She called the handling of Cox “unacceptable.”

Cox, who is Black, was handcuffed when he was in the back of the New Haven police van. There were no seat belts. He flew headfirst into a wall when Officer Oscar Diaz said he braked hard to avoid a collision, police said. A camera recorded the moments when Cox was injured and that video has been released publicly.

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.

Video via New Haven Register (contains graphic content)

Video shows interaction between New Haven police, Richard Cox

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 last week.

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.

Mayor Justin Elicker said in a statement that he was concerned the actions of the officers “do not reflect the high standards to which I know other police officers hold themselves to everyday.”

Meanwhile, he said New Haven prisoner transport vans not equipped with seatbelts have been taken out of service and the police department is working to install seatbelts in vans that don’t have them.

“While the state does not require seatbelts in local police conveyance vans, the city will require them moving forward,” he said.

This story includes reporting from Connecticut Public and the Associated Press.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
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