The family of a Connecticut man who was severely injured while riding in a police van this month says he was left paralyzed after multiple officers ignored his repeated calls for help.
Randy Cox was handcuffed and incapacitated when police in New Haven dragged him from the back of the vehicle. He was not wearing a seat belt and his head was slammed against the back of the van when the officer driving it made a sudden stop, a disturbing video shows.
His family is now calling for justice and is pursuing damages against the city.
“It made me sick to my stomach, to treat somebody like that,” Cox’s sister, Latoya Boomer, told CBS News.
Cox was at a block party on June 19 when police arrived in response to a weapons complaint. Officers arrested Cox, who they say is an ex-felon and was carrying a firearm illegally. As they were taking him to jail, authorities say Officer Oscar Diaz was speeding and came to a sudden stop to avoid an accident, causing Cox to hit his head.
“Help! I can’t get up!” Cox was heard saying in the video.
“I can’t hear you,” the officer replied as the man continued to beg for help.
Despite Cox’s repeated calls for help, it took the officer almost four minutes to check on him before calling an ambulance to meet him at the station. When the van arrived, several other officers were waiting and began berating Cox to get out.
“Move your leg! Sit up!” one of them said.
“Why you not listening, bro? I can’t move!” Cox replied.
“You’re not even trying!” the officer said.
About three minutes later, they pulled Cox by his feet and dragged him out of the van before forcefully hoisting him into a wheelchair.
“You just drank too much,” an officer told him.
Cox was processed and dragged into a holding cell — about 10 minutes after the van arrived at the police station.
“He’s perfectly fine,” one of the officers said.
Cox was placed on the floor, where an officer shackled his legs, but he couldn’t move as he was paralyzed from the chest down. He remains hospitalized in intensive care.
The five officers involved have since been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
“Mr. Cox was mistreated,” Karl Jacobson, New Haven’s assistant police chief, said at a recent news conference. “He should’ve received medical attention immediately. We can’t defend anything that was released.”
The mayor’s office announced several policy changes following the incident, including installing seat belts in all police department transport vans and requiring officers to buckle in detainees. Seat belts were already required in police cruisers.
Boomer said she just couldn’t finish watching the footage of how officers treated her brother.
“At what point in time do you believe someone that’s saying, ‘I think my neck is broken?'” she said.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Cox’s family, said he will seek a civil settlement from the city to cover Cox’s medical care and lifelong injuries.
“What we want is full justice,” he said. “We want criminal accountability for those officers but we also want to see policy changes.”