The Day

New Haven chief recommends firing 4 cops

All were involved in case of prisoner left paralyzed after arrest


The police chief in New Haven recommende­d Tuesday that four officers be fired for mistreatin­g a Black man who became paralyzed from the chest down last year in a police van that braked suddenly.

Police Chief Karl Jacobson’s recommenda­tions in the case of Richard “Randy” Cox now go to the city’s police commission­ers, who have the sole authority to fire officers. The commission­ers are expected to hold hearings beginning in late April or early May, he said.

“The message to the community is that we will be transparen­t and we will be accountabl­e, and we will hold our officers accountabl­e,” Jacobson said at a news conference at police headquarte­rs. “The message to the officers is that this administra­tion does have your back and that mistakes do happen, but we will not treat this community disrespect­fully as happened in the Randy Cox situation.”

Jacobson also announced that internal affairs investigat­ions found the officers violated conduct rules on integrity, abiding by the law, trustworth­iness, courtesy and respect.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Cox and his family, said they are encouraged the chief is recommendi­ng the officers be fired.

“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,” Crump said in a statement.

An attorney for one of the officers said they were being used as scapegoats for the department’s inadequate training and policies, and noted Jacobson said over 50 policies are under review to make sure what happened to Cox doesn’t happen again.

The four officers — Oscar Diaz, Betsy Segui, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera — also have been criminally charged on allegation­s they cruelly mistreated and neglected Cox on June 19, 2022, after he was injured in the back of a police van with no seat belts. He’d been arrested on gun and threatenin­g charges, which were later dropped.

A fifth officer, Ronald Pressley, is charged with the same crimes. Jacobson said Pressley retired in January, so he cannot be discipline­d.

Police have said the van driver, Diaz, was transporti­ng Cox to police headquarte­rs when he braked hard to avoid an accident. Cox, whose hands were handcuffed behind his back, slid head-first into the metal partition between the driver and passenger compartmen­ts, breaking his neck and leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

“I can’t move. I’m going to die like this. Please, please, please help me,” Cox said minutes after the crash, according to police video.

Diaz stopped a few minutes later to check on him, according to police video and officials. Cox was lying motionless on the floor and Diaz called paramedics. However, Diaz told them to meet him at the station instead of waiting for them — a violation of department policy, Jacobson has said.

At the station, some of the officers mocked Cox and accused him of being drunk and faking his injuries, according to surveillan­ce and bodyworn camera footage. Officers dragged Cox by his feet out of the van and placed him in a holding cell prior to his eventual transfer to a hospital.

The five officers have pleaded not guilty to second-degree reckless endangerme­nt and cruelty to persons — misdemeano­r charges criticized as too light by Cox’s family and lawyers.

The case has drawn outrage from civil rights advocates like the NAACP, along with comparison­s to the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Gray, who was also Black, died in 2015 after he suffered a spinal injury while handcuffed and shackled in a city police van.

Gregory Cerritelli, a lawyer for Segui, said the officers are “scapegoats” for the department’s “inadequate training and policies.”

“The entire process lacks fundamenta­l fairness,” Cerretelli said about the internal affairs investigat­ions.

Messages seeking comment for left for the other officers’ lawyers.

Cox is suing the officers and city for $100 million in federal court for alleged negligence, excessive use of force, failing to provide immediate medical care, assault and intentiona­l infliction of emotional distress, among other claims.

In court documents, the officers and the city deny the lawsuit allegation­s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States