Three police officers in New Haven, Connecticut, have been placed on paid leave while Connecticut State Police investigate an incident that sounds eerily similar to that of Freddie Gray.
On Juneteenth, 36-year-old Black man Richard “Randy” Cox was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm and he was being transported in a police van to New Haven Police Headquarters for booking—but he never made it there. Instead, he ended up paralyzed from the chest down, and now his family and legal team, which includes civil attorney Ben Crump, are speaking out.
According to Fox 61, while Cox was being transported in a van that had no seatbelts, the officer driving the vehicle stopped abruptly to avoid a crash causing Cox to slide head-first into the van’s back wall. Instead of stopping immediately to render aid to the injured man, the officer reportedly kept driving for several minutes while Cox begged him to stop. Eventually, the driver, identified as officer Oscar Diaz, did pull over and call for an ambulance.
From Fox 61:
When the van arrived, officers decided to drag Cox from the van rather than wait for the ambulance to arrive.
“From what I’ve been informed of by the family Richard is fighting for his life,” said Devin Avshalom-Smith, a member of the New Haven Board of Alders and friend of Cox and his family. “He’s hanging in there. He’s undergone a number of surgeries.”
Cox remains on a respirator and a feeding tube, according to Avshalom-Smith, who added that Cox does have some movement in his left arm. However, there is largely paralysis from the chest down.
Crump posted video of the arrest Monday night. The footage is extremely grahic.
Avhalom-Smith also said what a lot of us who have seen how reckless cops can be with Black bodies are likely thinking: “I felt that Randy’s humanity wasn’t recognized and that he was treated in a fashion that was subhuman.”
Peter Reichard, a former assistant police chief in New Haven, suggested that Diaz was texting while he was driving the van.
“The officer’s actions were inappropriate from you know driving the prisoner conveyance fan with a cell phone in your hand texting people just not paying attention to the road,” Reichard said. It’s unclear whether that’s what happened or not, but unless the accident happened right in front of him, it’s worth questioning why he had to stop suddenly while transporting someone in a van with no seatbelts. (Also, at some point we need to ask why vans meant to transport human beings didn’t have seatbelts. People in police custody are humans too, and their right to safety is as good as anyone else’s.)
According to Fox, another former police chief wondered why officers chose to drag Cox off the van instead of waiting for the ambulance—which was a good question, but that former chief’s possible reasoning for why was, well, really dumb and senseless.
“There is a tendency sometimes for police officers to become impatient with individuals who are under arrest because sometimes they are not cooperative,” the former chief of the Fairfield Police Department Gary MacNamara said.
This man is paralyzed from the chest down and cops using cop logic are still suggesting he should have just complied. (BTW, MacNamara currently runs public safety for Sacred Heart University. Imagine that.)
During a press conference on Tuesday, Crump compared Cox’s case to that of Freddie Gray, the Black man who suffered a deadly injury while being transported in a police vehicle. “This is Freddie Gray on video,” Crump said, emphasizing how there was no video footage from Gray’s case.
“Randy’s quality of life will forever be diminished by the irresponsible actions of Oscar Diaz and the other New Haven police officers while he was under their custody,” Crump said in an emailed statement to NewsOne. “Law enforcement respecting every life they interact with and are responsible for is imperative for building trust with the communities they serve, especially communities of color. As Randy Cox continues to fight for his life and future, we will fight for justice for him, his family, and the New Haven community.”
One of Cox’s sisters during the press conference called for the officers to be “arrested and charged.”