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5 Connecticut cops charged over incident that left Black man paralyzed


(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) — Five New Haven police officers were arrested and charged over their alleged involvement in an incident that left a Black man paralyzed earlier this year while in police custody, prosecutors announced Monday.

Officers Oscar Diaz, Jocelyn Lavandier, Ronald Pressley, Luis Rivera and Sgt. Betsy Segui were charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree and cruelty to persons, according to New Haven’s state attorney John P. Doyle, Jr.

Both charges are misdemeanors and the officers were each released on a $25,000 bond.

The charges stem from an alleged incident involving a New Haven, Connecticut man, Randy Cox, 36, on June 19. Officers had arrested Cox for criminal possession of a firearm and breach of peace and were transporting him in a van when Cox sustained injuries that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

In October, all charges against Cox were dropped, according to the New Haven Superior Court clerk’s office.

“While today’s news that these officers will face some accountability is an important first step towards justice for Randy, we know there is more work to be done on his behalf. We will continue to fight for him throughout this process, and stand beside him as he navigates the long road toward recovery,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said in a statement.

Surveillance video of Cox’s arrest showed officers placing him in the back of a police van that didn’t have any seatbelts.

During an abrupt stop, Cox was thrown head-first into the back wall of the van, his lawyers said in June, and the video shows.

According to an arrest affidavit for the officers, which detailed parts of a conversation between Cox and Diaz immediately after the stop, Cox repeatedly asked for help, saying he couldn’t move and thought his neck was broken.

According to New Haven police, Cox did not receive immediate medical attention at the time of the incident.

Cox filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against the city of New Haven and New Haven Police Department officers in September.

ABC News was not able to reach attorneys for the officers for comment.

“I’m not gonna say what those officers felt, but it seems like they thought he was intoxicated. So they weren’t taking his claims as legitimate,” New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson said in an interview with ABC News in September when the lawsuit was filed. “We as a police department, especially [with] someone in custody, need to take everybody’s claims legitimately, and build that legitimacy with the community.”

Cox’s family and his attorneys said the injuries sustained in the police vehicle and the alleged neglect from other officers have left him unable to care for himself and leave him with little opportunity to earn a living for the rest of his life.

“We think that there is no value that can replace the damages and the hurt and the harm and the mental anguish and the torture that he’s endured every day, every hour, every minute, every second, every second of his life,” Crump said in a news conference in September announcing the lawsuit. “We did not have to file this lawsuit to tell you why the city needs to do the right thing.”

The U.S. Department of Justice said in July that it’s closely watching the investigation into the incident with Cox.

“All suspects taken into police custody must be afforded timely and appropriate medical care in the event of an emergency,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery in a statement. “If federal action is warranted, the Justice Department will pursue every available avenue to the full extent of the law.”

The case has prompted reform promises from New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker and Jacobson, including new policies aimed at enhancing safety protocols during the transportation and detention of people, particularly those in need of medical attention.

ABC News’ Kiara Alfonseca, Kendall Ross and Amanda Su contributed to this report.

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