The city of New Haven fired two more police officers and agreed to pay a $45 million settlement to a Black Man who was left paralyzed while in police custody after a 2022 arrest.
Richard “Randy” Cox injured his neck on June 19, 2022, after he was arrested for suspicion of illegally possessing a handgun at a block party. While en route to the jail, the van driver braked hard to avoid a collision with another vehicle that pulled out from a side street, according to multiple reports.
Cox, who was handcuffed and unbuckled in the back of the van, hit his head on the metal divider between the driver’s section and the prisoner section.
He was being represented by Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump, Louis Rubano and R.J. Weber. They originally filed a $100 million lawsuit in September.
“As the largest settlement in a police misconduct case in our nation’s history, this settlement sends a message to the country that we know we must be better than this,” said Crump, Rubano, and Weber in a statement. “This settlement makes a strong statement that police departments and their municipalities will be accountable for ensuring that police officers honor the lives of those who they are sworn to serve and protect.”
In addition to the settlement, New Haven city police commissioners voted to dismiss officers Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera for violating officer conduct rules, according to The Associated Press. Four of the six city police commissioners voted to have both officers terminated.
Cox pleaded for help while injured in the back of the van, but it took officers nearly four minutes to pull over to check on him.
“I can’t move. I’m going to die like this. Please, please, please help me,” Cox said, according to police video.
Officers called for paramedics but told the ambulance to meet them at the jail. He suffered a neck injury and was left paralyzed from the chest down. Video shows officers dragged Cox, mocked him, and accused him of being drunk while at the jail when he was not able to stand on his own. He was then put into a wheelchair and brought to a cell, where he was left on the floor to wait for paramedics.
It took them nearly 15 minutes to arrive before he received medical attention, according to investigators.
Officer Oscar Diaz and Betsy Segui were previously fired for their roles. Diaz was the officer driving the van when the injuries to Cox occurred. Lavandier was spotted on video dragging Cox out of the van while at the jail.
All five officers are facing criminal charges as well. They face misdemeanor charges of second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons. Their criminal cases still remain pending.
Ronald Pressley, the fifth officer, pleaded not guilty as well as the other four officers. He also retired in January, placing him beyond any internal discipline by the New Haven Police Department.
Police Chief Karl Jacobson acknowledged the wrongdoing of the five officers at a press conference held on June 28, 2022. He also recommended that Lavandier, Rivera, Diaz, and Segui be fired in March to the city police commissioners.
The case drew outrage from civil rights advocates like the NAACP, Crump and the local Black community in New Haven. A protest was held on July 8, 2022, to call for justice in honor of Cox.
LaToya Boomer, the sister of Cox, also spoke out against the unfair treatment of her brother.
According to the AP, the state Senate gave final legislative approval on June 5 to a bill sparked by Cox’s case that would now require seat belts for all prisoners being transported.