Five New Haven officers charged after Randy Cox was paralyzed in police van appear in court
The five Connecticut police officers who were recently charged with reckless endangerment and cruelty for neglecting a Black man after he was partially paralyzed in the back of a police van appeared in court Thursday.
According to the New Haven Independent, none of the arrested officers or their attorneys spoke during the proceedings. No pleas were entered and their cases were continued to Jan. 11.
Randy Cox, 36, was being driven to a New Haven police station in June for processing on a weapons charge when the driver braked hard at an intersection, saying he was trying to avoid a collision. Cox flew headfirst into a metal partition in the van.
“I can’t move. I’m going to die like this. Please, please, please help me,” Cox said minutes after the crash.
As Cox pleaded for help, some of the officers at the detention center mocked him and accused him of being drunk and faking his injuries, according to dialogue captured by surveillance and body-worn camera footage. Officers dragged Cox by his feet from the van and placed him in a holding cell prior to his eventual transfer to a hospital.
“I think I cracked my neck,” Cox said after the van arrived at the detention center.
“You didn't crack it, no, you drank too much ... Sit up,” said Sgt. Betsy Segui, one of the five officers charged.
Cox was later found to have a fractured neck and was paralyzed.
The five New Haven police officers were charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty, both misdemeanors. Segui was charged, as were Officers Oscar Diaz, Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera. All have been on administrative leave since last summer.
The officers should have been arrested on felony assault charges instead, Cox’s attorney, Ben Crump, recently told reporters. Cox’s sister, Latoya Boomer, called the misdemeanor charges a “slap in the face.”
Though each officer faces the same charges, some seemed to take Cox's pleas more seriously than others. Diaz, who drove the transport van, pulled over after Cox complained of his injury, spoke to him and requested that an ambulance meet them at the detention center. However, Diaz did not render medical attention to Cox as he lay face down on the floor.
Cox’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the city of New Haven and the five officers in September. The lawsuit alleges negligence, exceeding the speed limit and failure to have proper restraints in the police van.
The city of New Haven announced Monday that it’s working on a settlement with attorneys representing Cox.
Four of the officers filed motions in November claiming qualified immunity from the lawsuit, arguing that their actions in the case did not violate any “clearly established” legal standard.
New Haven officials announced a series of police reforms this summer stemming from the case, including eliminating the use of 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.
Connecticut Public Radio's Frankie Graziano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.