NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven police chief recommends terminating four officers involved in the Richard “Randy” Cox case.

Officer Luis Rivera, Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, Officer Ronald Pressley, Sgt. Betsy Segui and Officer Oscar Diaz – who have been on administrative leave since late June 2022 – were arrested in November in connection with the incident that left Cox paralyzed. All officers pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons.

Jacobson’s recommendation to fire Rivera, Lavandier, Segui, and Diaz comes after an internal affairs investigation by the police department. Pressley retired from the department in January, the police chief said. Two others will face lesser discipline, Jacobson said.

“I can only discipline up to 15 days suspension, so it will be less than that,” Jacobson said.

The Board of Police Commissioners in New Haven has to vote on the terminations, and the officers can contest the recommendation. The hearings will be at the end of April.

From the start, Cox’s family has called for these officers to be fired and held accountable. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump released a statement following Jacobson’s announcement.

Randy and his family are encouraged that these officers are being held accountable for their actions resulting in Randy’s horrific, life-altering injuries. We are hopeful that the city and police department understand that their actions and lack thereof played a critical role in Randy’s permanent and life-changing condition. These officers were sworn to protect their community, but they inflicted unnecessary and traumatizing harm to Randy, who will pay the price for the rest of his life. Randy prays every day that he can get into a facility that can provide him the care that he needs to live life to the fullest as a quadriplegic individual.

Ben Crump

News 8 reached out to the attorneys for the officers for comment on Jacobson’s recommendation, but we have not heard back. 

The Incident

Officers arrested Cox, 37, on June 19, 2022, on a weapons charge, which was later dropped, and placed him inside a police van with no seatbelts. He was placed in a police van following an arrest for a weapons charge when the vehicle slammed on its brakes, causing him to sustain a cervical spine injury. The van did not have seatbelts.

Despite begging for help, Cox did not receive immediate medical assistance. Officers then dragged him across the floor and placed him into a cell.

The incident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

$100 Million Lawsuit

In September, lawyers for Cox filed a $100 million lawsuit against the city of New Haven and the officers involved, alleging negligence, use of excessive force, denial of medical treatment, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In early December, Cox’s family and city officials announced they were committed to trying to settle the civil lawsuit. No update on the status of that lawsuit has been provided.

Earlier this month, a judge approved adding an unknown driver, identified as “Jane Doe,” as a defendant in the civil lawsuit in the case. A lawyer for Diaz claims he would not have had to slam on the brakes if that driver hadn’t gone a few feet past a stop sign.

Criminal Investigation Continues

On Nov. 28, 2022, the five police officers were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons by the New Haven State’s Attorney following a months-long investigation, which included conducting interviews, reviewing police reports, and viewing surveillance videos. 

On Jan. 11, 2023, the officers pleaded not guilty. Their cases continue to play out in court.