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‘Justice for Randy’: Family of man severely injured by New Haven police calls for transparency

A screenshot from New Haven Police Department video shows handcuffed 36-year-old Richard Cox flying to the front of a NHPD transport van after the driver hit his brakes to avoid a collision. Cox is hospitalized and likely paralyzed as a result of his head striking the metal interior wall of the van and five New Haven police officers are on paid leave while the incident is investigated.
New Haven Police Department
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New Haven Police Department
A screenshot from New Haven police video shows a handcuffed Richard Cox flying to the front of a police transport van after the driver hit the brakes to avoid a collision. Cox, 36, is hospitalized and likely paralyzed as a result of his head striking the metal interior wall of the van. Several New Haven police officers are on paid leave while the incident is investigated.

Attorneys and family members are demanding transparency from New Haven police after a 36-year-old man was severely injured in the back of a police van.

Richard “Randy” Cox has signs of paralysis, attorneys and family say.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday morning, attorneys called for the release of more police video of the June 19 incident, and family members said the officers involved should be arrested and charged.

Five officers have been placed on paid leave. Connecticut state police are investigating the incident.

Cox was injured in the back of the van when one of the officers said he braked to avoid an accident. Cox was later dragged into a police holding cell.

Family members say the officers did not show compassion or concern for Cox, who had asked for help and said he was injured.

Police video footage already released is “horrific,” said Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney who is representing the Cox family. Crump has represented families of several people of color nationwide who have been killed or injured by police officers.

“This is shocking, this is horrific, this is unacceptable, this is inhumane,” Crump said. “We are better than this, New Haven. We are better than this, America. How many more times do we have to see Black people brutalized at the hands of people who are supposed to protect and serve them?”

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.
New Haven Police Department
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New Haven Police Department
A screenshot from New Haven police 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 en route to NHPD headquarters in a police transport van. Cox's head slammed into the front interior wall of the van after the driver braked suddenly to avoid a collision. Cox is in the hospital, and several NHPD officers are on paid leave while the incident is investigated.

Crump added: “This Black life is worthy of dignity, respect and most of all humanity.”

As Crump spoke on the steps of the state courthouse in New Haven, family and friends held signs with Cox’s photo that read: “Justice for Randy Cox.”

“I don’t know what it’s going to take for police officers around America to start to believe marginalized people of color, especially Black people, when we say you are brutalizing us,” Crump said.

Crump said what happened to Cox is similar to what happened to Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man who died in 2015 after his neck was broken while he was in a Baltimore police van.

New Haven acting Police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said last week that the handling of Cox was “unacceptable” and that the department is committed to “make sure an incident of this nature never happens again.”

Cox’s attorneys say they want information released about the driver of the van, Officer Oscar Diaz, including whether he was texting or on a cellphone when he stepped on the brakes to stop the vehicle.

This is a developing story, which includes reporting from the Associated Press.

Eric Aasen is executive editor at Connecticut Public, the statewide NPR and PBS service. He leads the newsroom, including editors, reporters, producers and newscasters, and oversees all local news, including radio, digital and television platforms. Eric joined Connecticut Public in 2022 from KERA, the NPR/PBS member station in Dallas-Fort Worth, where he served as managing editor and digital news editor. He's directed coverage of several breaking news events and edited and shaped a variety of award-winning broadcast and digital stories. In 2023, Connecticut Public earned a national Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage that explored 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, as well as five regional Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. In 2015, Eric was part of a KERA team that won a national Online Journalism Award. In 2017, KERA earned a station-record eight regional Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. Eric joined KERA after more than a decade as a reporter at The Dallas Morning News. A Minnesota native, Eric has wanted to be a journalist since he was in the third grade. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned a political science degree. He and his wife, a Connecticut native, have a daughter and a son, as well as a dog and three cats.

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