By Rob Polansky, Matt McFarland, Evan Sobol and Audrey Russo
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (WFSB) — Five officers involved in the paralysis of a New Haven man who was in the back of a police van have been charged, according to state police.
Randy Cox, 36, was left paralyzed when the New Haven officers who arrested him did not properly secure him in the back of a transport van back in June.
A news conference with Cox’s attorneys and his family was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
State police identified the five officers who were arrested as Officer Oscar Diaz, Officer Ronald Pressley, Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, Officer Luis Rivera, and Sgt, Betsy Segui.
When the officer behind the wheel of the van slammed on the brakes to avoid a crash, Cox flew head-first into the van’s rear doors.
Cox’s family and lawyers said he was paralyzed from the chest down from the incident.
Before the incident, Cox was arrested on charges of breach of peace, second-degree threatening, carrying a pistol without a permit, criminal possession of a firearm, and first-degree threatening.
However, those charges were officially dropped last month, according to the New Haven Superior Court clerk’s office.
The court found that the officers involved followed proper procedure while they arrested Cox, but what they did afterward and during transportation was wrong.
When officers are transporting arrestees, they are responsible for the safe transport of that person to the police station, court officials said.
All five officers have been on paid administrative leave since June, when the incident first happened.
They were charged with reckless endangerment second-degree and cruelty to persons, state police said.
State police said each of the officers posted a $25,000 bond. They were given a court date of Dec. 8.
The New Haven Police Department will restart its internal affairs investigation into whether the officers will keep their jobs.
The President of New Haven’s Police Union and the Union’s Attorney spent the morning at Troop F in Westbrook as the officers turned themselves in to police.
“I know that the state’s attorney spent a lot of time reviewing the information provided to him and made the decision based on what he felt the appropriate charges were. I’m just glad to see the process moving forward,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.
After a review of video, which included officer-worn body cameras, and an interview with Cox, troopers determined the five officers engaged in reckless conduct when Cox was left immobile and deprived of proper physical care.
“It’s hard to see officers charged, but it’s also a part of what we’ve been talking about from the beginning. We need to be transparent and accountable, period. And that’s what’s going on today,” said New Haven police Chief Karl Jacobson.
Randy Cox’s legal team said it was pleased there were finally charges as it moved forward with its $100 million lawsuit against the city and the officers.
“What happened here today is never going to change the fact that Randy Cox is paralyzed from the neck down and that his life, since June 19, Juneteenth 2022, has been irreparably altered. This is the rest of his life and what he’s faced with,” said R.J. Weber, attorney for the Randy Cox legal team.
Since the incident happened, Elicker said changes were implemented at the police department, which included to ensure the arrestees were properly belted in with seatbelts.
Another of Cox’s attorney, Ben Crump, said the New Haven Police Department handled the incident “horrifically from start to finish and now they must answer for their conduct.”
The New Haven Police Department Union released a statement:
All five police officers involved in the incident in which Mr. Randy Cox was injured were arrested today at Troop F in Westbrook. All of the officers turned themselves into authorities and were release on a court set bond of $25,000.00. All five officers will be arraigned at the G.A. court in New Haven on December 8th.
These arrests are only one part of the processes these officers will face. The internal investigation phase is next, and the Police Union will be intimately involved in that portion of the case. The Civil Court case is ongoing and the Union, just like the Criminal Cases, plays a support role as the officer’s legal representation is either provided by the City or by private counsel.
This case, as a whole, is a continuing tragedy for all involved. Mr. Cox, the City, the Police Department and the Officers involved all are dealing with the life changing events of June 19th. The Union will continue to support the officers during this ordeal. Guilt, innocence, liability or culpability will be determined later. For now, due process and the protections it provides, must be honored so that this case is handled in the most prudent, proper and professional manner possible.
The Union will make no further comments at this time as the internal cases are active and underway.
New Haven Police Department Union Channel 3′s law enforcement analyst, retired state police Lt. Paul Vance, said the impact of the charges would likely be seen throughout the New Haven Police Department.
“This is not something that’s taken lightly by any police department in Connecticut or across the country,” Vance said.
Vance said the charges will also have an impact on young officers as well as recruits.
“Don’t forget, law enforcement officers serve the people. They serve the customers in their communities, and they want to do so professionally and proudly. This puts a little bit of a damper on the department and it’s hard to hold your chin up,” he said. “But New Haven PD, the guys and gals there are good people. They work hard and they’re going to stick together to try and continue to serve the people that they’ve sworn to protect.”
Vance said what happens next will depend on the trial.
“It doesn’t matter what your employment is, if you’re a carpenter, a police officer, a judge, whatever, you’re innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
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