Charges Dropped Against Man Paralyzed In Police Custody

All criminal charges against the man paralyzed while in New Haven police custody in June, have been dropped, according to court officials.

On Father’s Day, Richard “Randy” Cox Jr., 36, suffered a serious injury to his neck and spine while he was being transported to a detention center in a van unequipped with a seat belt. 

Police had responded to a 911 call regarding a weapons complaint. Cox was arrested for criminal possession of a firearm, carrying a pistol without a permit, first-degree threatening, second-degree threatening and second-degree breach of peace.

In a statement, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said, “As a person that saw what happened to Randy Cox after he was in custody, and the fact that he may be paralyzed for life, I think dropping the charges was the right decision.” 

Since Cox’s injury, Mayor Elicker and the New Haven Police Department have instituted changes in the department’s “primary means of transporting prisoners.” The New Haven Register reported that transports are now in “a marked cruiser equipped with a screened prisoner compartment.”

The new policy also requires officers to ask a newly-arrested individual whether they need medical attention, and inquire again after arriving at the detention facility. Those interactions must be recorded on the officer’s body camera.

While being transported, the NHPD said the officer driving the van stopped suddenly to avoid a crash, causing Cox to be thrown with his hands cuffed behind his back. Videos show him crying for help, saying he was unable to move. When they arrived at the police station, video shows Cox was transported to his cell in a wheelchair.

In September, Cox’s family, represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, filed a lawsuit against the city for $100 million. The suit alleges that an officer failed to safely restrain Cox while he was handcuffed in the back of a police van. It also alleges that four other officers contributed to injuries while transporting Cox at a police detention center.

According to Cox’s family, he was paralyzed from the chest down, with no use of his fingers and limited use of his arms.

The incident and injuries Cox sustained are eerily similar to the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. While being transported in a police van, Gray also sustained injuries to his spinal cord and died.

Officer Oscar Diaz, who was driving the van, along with officers Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera and Sgt. Betsy Segui, have been placed on paid administrative leave for their role in the incident. 

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