On the evening of June 19 when Randy Cox’s family received a call: Mr. Cox had been arrested by police in New Haven, Conn., and was on his way to book a room.
The family was worried but were told to wait.
The next phone call, hours later, was confusing and scary: Mr. Cox, 36, had fallen, was in the hospital and needed urgent spine surgery.
The full picture of what happened during those alternating hours made headlines this week, when Mr Cox’s family and his lawyers showed police video showing Mr Cox stabbing him directly. appeared in the back of a police van after it suddenly stopped and left. lame. There is no seat belt to restrain him. His family and lawyers said the impact fractured his spine and left him paralyzed from the chest down.
“You can’t even put it into words,” his sister, LaToya Boomer, said Wednesday. “Blow the soul.”
Cox, who is black, remained hospitalized Wednesday on a ventilator, with barely any movement below his neck, his family and attorney said. After he was injured, officers taunted Mr Cox for not being able to sit up, a video showed.
It is the latest in a series of troubling encounters with police in which Blacks have been injured or killed – episodes that have distrusted law enforcement and fueled protests. widely against bias and brutality in policing.
And it bears a striking resemblance to the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who died in 2015 after being forced to drive unsafely in the back of a similar police vehicle.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” said Jack O’Donnell, Mr Cox’s attorney for many years. Mr O’Donnell said the graphic video of his client’s injury was difficult for him to watch.
In an interview Wednesday, the mayor of New Haven, Justin Elicker, said what happened to Cox was “horrible” and pledged that the city would handle the investigation transparently and fast. He said hours after Cox was injured, the city notified the state government and state police, who have begun their own investigation.
“It is very important for us to respond to this quickly, decisively and openly,” said Mayor Elicker.
Mr. Elicker said all police officers involved in the episode – a sergeant and four officers – have been placed on leave while the department conducts its investigation.
Mr Cox spent most of June 19 at a residential party when police responded to the area following a firearms complaint, Mr O’Donnell and police said. The officers confronted Mr. Cox, found a weapon, they later said, and arrested him.
Mr Cox was first placed in the back of a team car with a seat belt on, Mr. O’Donnell said. But officers soon called for a larger truck. He said the van, often used to carry suspects, did not have seat belts in the cabin.
In the police scene, which had been reported by news agencies, Cox could be seen sitting restlessly in the back of the truck. He kicked the front of the shipping area several times. Then he banged his head violently on the back of the car: The truck came to a sudden stop. Mr. Cox’s limp body lay motionless as he groaned for help.
“I’m stopping, I’ll check you out,” the driver, identified as Police Diaz in the video, can be heard shouting.
Diaz police stopped the vehicle to check on Mr. Cox, who said he was unable to move. The officer then called for medical assistance and continued to the detention facility. After the truck arrived, officers could be seen mocking and taunting Mr Cox for his posture and his inability to sit up.
“If you have to pull me, do what you have to,” Mr Cox told officers, then pulled him by foot out of the car.
At one point, an officer suggested he might be drunk. Mr Cox begged that he couldn’t feel anything and couldn’t move. Finally, the officers dragged him outside and wrapped him in a wheelchair. They then dragged him with limp, shackled arms into the cell.
Mr Cox underwent surgery to reattach several broken vertebrae, his sister said.
City of New Haven policy does not require officers to contain persons who have been arrested in the back of a police van, but it does require officers to immediately call an ambulance or paramedic. scene if a passenger becomes ill or injured.
In one email Speaking to residents of the city last week, Mayor Elicker said the abrupt stop of the truck appeared to occur when the police officer was driving on the brakes to avoid an accident.
“This is not a proud moment for me or the Police Department. We are all disappointed by what has happened,” said Assistant Manager Karl Jacobson, who was supposed to take over as the division’s next head of department, said at a community meeting this week. “I also want justice for Randy. We will work hard to make changes.”
While the officers did not appear to have maliciously injured Mr Cox, Mayor Elicker said their conduct “showed a deeply disturbing level of callousness”.
Mr Cox remains in hospital, largely unable to move. Mr O’Donnell said doctors were “hopeful, but not optimistic” that he would make a full recovery.
‘He was able to talk at first when he first arrived at the hospital, but his oxygen and breathing were not good,’ Ms Boomer said. She says he can answer “yes” or “no” questions and may show slight movement in his left arm.
Mr Cox has been charged with possession of a weapon in connection with the incident and his court date is scheduled for July 21, Mr. O’Donnell said.
Kirsten Noyes contributed research.