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New Haven mayor, police leader vow to improve police department after man is severely injured

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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 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.

New Haven's mayor and assistant police chief say they want to improve the police department after a man was severely injured while in police custody.

Richard "Randy" Cox was handcuffed and left unsecured in the back of a police van that lacked seatbelts. The officer driving says he stopped abruptly to avoid a car crash, injuring Cox. Video shows police later dragged Cox into a holding cell.

The five officers have since been placed on paid leave. Cox’s family said he's paralyzed.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said he saw “extreme callousness” on the part of the officers involved in the incident when he watched police body camera footage. Such a culture must change, he said.

“I also think that it's important for us to foster a culture of intervention of officers having the tools and the support that they need to stop other officers, when they have questions about following procedure,” Elicker told Connecticut Public Radio’s "Where We Live."

New Haven Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson emphasized the need to train officers on the duty to intervene.

“Our leadership needs to push down to all our officers that it's all right to question and say, ‘Hey, this doesn't look right. Hey, why are we doing this?’” Jacobson said. "Just one of those officers saying something like that would have stopped the whole process, and they would have gotten him medical attention.”

Jacobson noted that in the past the department would address problem officers with discipline. Instead, he wants to pair up officers with model officers.

“We need to identify problems, fix them, have mentorship,” Jacobson said. “And if they're not fixing them, then we need to get rid of these officers.”

He said that New Haven police are revisiting their policies and that one thing they’re looking into is an early warning system in internal affairs for officers with rudeness complaints. Jacobson added that this is not the way the department should be treating people.

“If officers treat people the way they treated Mr. Cox, we don't want them to be police officers,” he stated.

Connecticut state police are investigating the case. Jacobson also notes that his department will respond “swiftly” in an internal affairs investigation.

Learn more

Listen to the "Where We Live" conversation with the New Haven mayor and police leader.

The police video below shows the interaction between New Haven police and Richard Cox.

Advisory: This video contains graphic content that may be disturbing to some viewers.

Michayla Savitt is a reporter at WNPR. She was a newsroom intern in summer 2022, covering the environment, among other issues. Prior to that, Michayla was a production intern for WNPR's talk shows. She is an alumna of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism health & science reporting program. Additionally, Michayla has worked in various non-profit and commercial radio newsrooms.

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