NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The family of Richard “Randy” Cox filed a $100 million lawsuit against the City of New Haven and five police officers over the incident that left him severely injured and paralyzed.
New Haven police arrested Cox, 36, on June 19 for unlawfully possessing a firearm. He was handcuffed and placed inside a police van that had no seatbelts. When the vehicle stopped abruptly, the video shows Cox was launched headfirst toward the front of the van’s holding area, smashing his head into the wall. Cox did not receive immediate medical help.
The incident left Cox paralyzed from the chest down. Earlier this month, Crump said Cox was recently re-admitted to the hospital due to complications from his injuries.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Cox’s legal team is still in talks with city leaders but filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court to make sure Cox is compensated for his suffering.
“If we say we respect life and respect Randy Cox’s life experiences and people like Randy Cox, similarly situated, then we have to show that by action, not just by rhetoric,” Crump said. “Not just say we care about Black lives, but we have an actual duty in New Haven and throughout America to show that we believe Black lives matter.”
In the lawsuit, the city and the five officers involved in Cox’s transport are accused of negligence, recklessness, use of excessive force, denial of medical treatment, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“The treatment of Mr. Cox while in the custody of the New Haven Police Department was completely unacceptable, and the City of New Haven is deeply committed to doing everything within its power to ensure an incident like this never happens again,” Mayor Justin Elicker said.
LaToya Boomer, Cox’s sister, said, “We don’t want any lip service; we want action. The action can’t come from me, it has to come from the people who have those jobs, being the mayor or the police commission or someone with any of those titles. I’ll be waiting.”
The five members of the New Haven Police Department involved in the transport and detention of Cox remain on paid administrative leave pending a state police investigation.
Allegations against the City of New Haven
The lawsuit claims the City of New Haven is liable for negligence and carelessness, recklessness, negligence of Officer Oscar Diaz, the negligence of Diaz, Betsy Segui, Ronald Pressley, Jocely Lavandier and Luis Rivera.
The lawsuit alleges the city was negligent in the following ways:
- Failed to properly equip the transport van with adequate passenger restraints
- Failed to provide the transport van with adequate equipment to ensure the safety of passengers
- Failed to update the safety equipment of the transport van to comply with current equipment requirements
- Failed to warn passengers of the dangerous and unsafe conditions of the passenger section of the transport van
Allegations against Officer Oscar Diaz
The first officer named in the lawsuit is Diaz, who was the driver of the transport van. The lawsuit alleges Diaz was “negligent and careless,” which caused Cox’s injuries. The lawsuit also alleges recklessness against Diaz. The lawsuit claims Diaz:
- Applied his brakes in an abrupt and unnecessary manner
- Failed to maintain a reasonable and proper lookout for other vehicles on the roadway
- Failed to keep the vehicle under proper control
- Inattentive in the operation of his vehicle
- Operated his vehicle at an excessive rate of speed in violation of Connecticut law
- Operated his vehicle recklessly in violation of Connecticut law
The lawsuit also claims that Diaz’s excessive use of force violated Cox’s 4th and 14th Amendment constitutional rights. The lawsuit alleges that Diaz denied medical treatment to Cox after Diaz “indicated he could not pull over immediately and proceeded to drive for approximately two (2) minutes before pulling over and stopping the transport van to check on Cox.” The lawsuit alleges Diaz did not:
- Provide immediate medical assistance
- Stop the transport van immediately to check on Cox’s wellbeing
- Immediately render medical assistance
- Immediately call an ambulance when he learned Cox might be seriously injured
- Remain at a stop after learning that Cox might be seriously injured
Allegations against 5 New Haven police officers
The lawsuit alleges that the same five officers used excessive force against Cox after placing him in a wheelchair and “eventually dragged him to a cell by his shoulder while still in handcuffs” when Cox indicated he could not move. The lawsuit also alleges the five officers denied Cox medical treatment for a serious injury.
The lawsuit claims that the five officers violated Cox’s constitutional rights and caused intentional infliction against Cox.
The five officers constituted an assault, battery, and negligence against Cox, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims the officers all:
- Failed to provide immediate medical attention
- Moved Cox when they knew or should have known it was dangerous to do so
- Failed to promptly call for medical attention
- Failed to respond appropriately to Cox’s complaints of serious injury
After the incident in June, the mayor and Police Chief Karl Jacobson announced a series of police reforms, 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.
Earlier this month, Cox’s legal team and Jacobson said they had heard the charge against Cox would be dropped.
“The state’s attorney mentioned that he was going to drop the charges. I don’t know officially if he has,” Jacobson said at the time.