Black Man Paralyzed While in Police Custody

Randy Cox, paralyzed while in the custody of New Haven police officers
Randy Cox


Randy Cox Severely Injured During Transport

(CT) – 36-year old Randy Cox went to a block party on June 19. Someone noticed he had a gun and called the police. Mr. Cox was taken into custody, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a police transport van. The New Haven Police Department’s police cars have seatbelts for arrested people, but their vans do not.

Officer Oscar Diaz was driving the transport van. According to the news video below, Officer Diaz was speeding and had to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. Mr. Cox was handcuffed and unable to stop from being thrown around in the back of the van. He slammed into the front wall and slumped to the floor, then began to call out, “Help. I can’t get up.” . Officer Diaz responds, “I can’t hear you.”

It doesn’t seem plausible that Officer Diaz couldn’t hear the bang as Mr. Cox hit the wall right behind Diaz. His response to Cox even seems to have a slight mocking tone to it. Officer Diaz continues driving for almost four minutes before deciding to check on Cox. When he opens the door he sees Cox on the floor. Cox tells him, “I broke my neck. I can’t move.” Officer Diaz calls the hospital telling them to go to the jail then continues driving, leaving Cox on the floor.

Note: Policy states he is supposed to call the ambulance to him and wait for it, not continue driving and possibly causing further injuries.

Police Refuse to Believe Man is Injured

The situation gets worse once they arrive at the detention facility at the police department. Cox had been drinking at the party. The officers assumed he was drunk and that he was refusing to cooperate even though he repeatedly tells them he can’t move. They drag him out by his feet and put him in a wheelchair. Cox, who has several broken vertebrae and is paralyzed from mid-chest down, is unable to sit up in the chair.

The video shows the officers handling him roughly and verbally abusing him. One female officer states, “He’s okay.” Mr. Cox is taken to a cell where he is placed on the floor. Medical personnel arrive and take him to the hospital where he is immediately taken into surgery.

Criminal Investigation Started

As horrible as that all is, credit has to go to the New Haven Police Department for their quick response. Officer Diaz and Sergeant Betsy Segui were put on administrative leave. An internal affairs investigation was started. The video was released to the family within 48 hours. By the fourth day, three more police officers who were involved in the incident, were placed on administrative leave. Those officers are: Officer Ronald Pressley, Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, and Officer Luis Rivera. 

The Connecticut State Police has taken over the investigation into the incident.

Mayor’s Press Release

New Haven mayor, Justin Elicker, put out a press release that included the below information.

An NHPD internal affairs investigation was opened and the Connecticut State Police, the State’s Attorney, the State Office of the Inspector General were promptly notified and briefed on the situation. The Connecticut State Police have subsequently taken over the investigation and the NHPD is fully cooperating.

Within 24 hours, Acting Chief Rush-Kittle, Assistant Chief Jacobson and I informed the public of the incident, and within 48 hours video footage of the incident was released to the Cox family and to the public.

All five officers — the driver, three officers at the detention facility, and the detention facility supervisor — involved in this incident have been put on administrative leave until the Connecticut State Police completes their investigation and the City conducts its Internal Affairs investigation.

NHPD prisoner conveyance vans not outfitted with seatbelts have been taken out of service. NHPD is working to install seatbelts in those vans that do not have them. While the State does not require seatbelts in local police conveyance vans, the City will require them moving forward. In addition, the NHPD is reviewing and will be updating its standard operating procedures and training for transporting arrestees and other related policies to ensure an incident like this never happens again.


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