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Five Connecticut Officers Arrested on Charges of Reckless Endangerment and Criminal Cruelty to Black Man Left Paralyzed After Arrest

Five Connecticut police officers connected to the detainment of a Black man that resulted in him being paralyzed from the chest down have been charged with misdemeanor crimes for their part in the events leading to his injury.

The police chief, Karl Jacobson, said his department wants to be transparent and are clear about officers who will face trial: “You can make mistakes, but you can’t treat people poorly, period.”

Man paralyzed in back of police van
Randy Cox was left paralyzed after ride in police van (Screenshot Police Video)

On Monday, Nov. 28, New Haven Officers Oscar Diaz, Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera, and Sgt. Betsy Segui from the New Haven Police Department learned they will face second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons for how careless they detained, arrested, transported and tended to Randy Cox while he was in their custody on June 19, Yale Daily News reports.

Both charges, according to Connecticut law, are class B misdemeanors suggesting no more than 6 months of jail time.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said at a press conference announcing the charges, “Based on today’s arrests, it’s clear that the state’s attorney believes that there’s probable cause that the actions of these officers violated state criminal laws.”

“I’m glad to see the process move forward to ensure that justice is served,” the mayor added.

A news release from state police revealed a warrant was prepared on Tuesday, Nov. 22, and after charges were rendered, the officers turned themselves in to the state police barracks. They were processed and offered bonds of $25,000. Each of the officers made the bond and is required back in court on Thursday, Dec. 8.

On the day officers were transporting Cox to a police station 11 miles away to be processed for a weapons charge, the officer driving pressed on the brake to avoid a collision in front of Yale’s Schwarzman Center. Because Cox was not in a seatbelt in the back of the patrol van, the jerking from the van being stopped abruptly caused him to crash headfirst into the door of the van.

Reports and camera evidence show Cox asked the officers to help him, telling them he believes he broke his neck and could not move. But they refused. Instead, the officers mocked him, accused him of being drunk, and said he was faking his injuries.

Diaz did call for medical support but left before they could arrive at the Schwarzman Center. Diaz has been cited for violating NHPD policy when she continued to drive to central booking at NHPD headquarters on 1 Union Ave. instead of waiting.

In addition to not believing him, when Cox was taken to the cell, the officers dragged him by his feet out of the van and into a holding cell, according to reports. Eventually, Cox was transferred to a hospital, where his injuries were diagnosed and treated.

This announcement comes after a five-month-long investigation by the state police and Atate’s Attorney Jack Doyle’s office. The CSP culminated its investigation into the conduct of the five officers and handed over their findings to Doyle’s review.

Cox’s lawyers, attorney R.J. Weber and civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, said they are pleased with the charges.

Weber told reporters, “We’re pleased to see the State’s Attorney’s Office and the criminal justice system at work. What’s 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, since Juneteenth of 2022, has been irreparably altered.”

While the state is pressing charges on the criminal side, Weber and Crump have filed a $100 million civil lawsuit. This lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, Oct. 4 with the officers only recently filing their answers and giving affirmative defenses to the complaint.

Pressley, Diaz, and Segui have claimed qualified immunity and contributory negligence on the part of Randy Cox.

Through lawyers, Lavandier, one of the officers involved, asked for a case dismissal against her based on procedural grounds.

The city was named in the civil lawsuit, and in their answer and affirmative defense, its lawyers said the municipality has claimed government immunity, qualified immunity, and contributory negligence on the part of Randy Cox in its defense.

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