Family of black man crippled by injuries in police van want officers ‘fired and arrested’ for civil rights violations
The family of a Connecticut man who became paralyzed after traveling in a police car is seeking federal civil rights lawsuits against the officers who reportedly abused him.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump compared the case to that of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died of spinal cord injuries in Baltimore police custody in 2015. In Gray’s case, police falsely reported that he broke his own neck. But Randy Cox’s moment of causality was caught on video.
Cox, 36, was taken to the New Haven Police Department on June 19 after being arrested for “a bottle of liquor” and unlawful possession of a firearm. A handcuffed Cox was not fastened with a seat belt, and video footage shows the man falling off the van seat and banging his head against the back wall when the driver stopped abruptly.
Officers ignored Cox’s pleas for help and delayed medical attention for the man. Instead, he was dragged from the police van, forced into a wheelchair, dragged to a jail cell and handcuffed before being medically examined. Cox’s sister, LaToya Boomer, said the driver passed two hospitals on the way to the jail.
Cox has broken his neck and is unable to move from the chest down. He is currently living on ventilation and feeding tubes. His family and attorney said officers violated Cox’s constitutional rights.
“One wonders if putting him in the back seat of that police van without a seat belt, knowing that someone would be seriously injured if you hit the brakes too quickly, was it a cruel and unusual punishment?” Crump said during a press conference prior to meeting with the US Department of Justice on Friday, July 8.
Officer Oscar Diaz reportedly drove 11 miles over the speed limit and slammed on the brakes to avoid colliding with another vehicle.
Cox, stunned from the blow to his head, immediately asked for help, the video shows. When Diaz checked on the man, Cox told him he couldn’t move. Diaz reported the problem to dispatchers and asked them to classify the move as an emergency. However, when Diaz arrived at the prison with Cox, officers repeatedly ordered him to move despite being briefed on his condition.
They pulled Cox out of the van by his feet and put him in a wheelchair. One of the officers dismissed Cox’s claims of injury and accused him of being intoxicated. According to his family, he has had multiple surgeries since then.
The video has sparked protests that saw hundreds march to the police station on Friday July 8.
“When I say my neck is broken, don’t take it as a joke,” chanted the crowd.
New Haven Police Deputy Chief Karl Jacobson condemned the officers during a June 28 news conference.
“Mr. Cox was mistreated. He should have received immediate medical attention. We cannot defend anything that has been released,” Jacobson said.
Five officers have been placed on administrative leave as part of a state police investigation. The department has implemented reforms that limit the use of police cars to transport detainees and require officers to call an ambulance immediately if a person needs medical attention. The agency will review the detention center’s policies, conduct random checks of detention center staff’s body cameras, and provide staff training.
“I want to reiterate that what happened to Mr. Cox is unacceptable and we are committed to making these necessary changes,” Mayor Justin Elicker said during a June 7 news conference announcing the reforms.
However, Cox family and community leaders said the reforms do not address the culture within the police department that led to officers mistreating the black man.
“Why do you need a policy that says you have to help someone if they need help?” Boomer said. “It should never have to be a policy. That should already be in your own brain.”
“I — slash us — want them fired and arrested, and I will keep saying it until it happens.”
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/07/13/was-it-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-family-of-black-man-crippled-by-injury-in-police-van-seeks-civil-rights-charges-for-officers/ Family of black man crippled by injuries in police van want officers ‘fired and arrested’ for civil rights violations