Disturbing videos released last week show a Connecticut cop transporting a handcuffed man in the back of a van with no seat belts before slamming on the brakes, launching the man headfirst into the front wall of the van with a loud thud – leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.
New Haven police officer Oscar Diaz was driving at a high rate of speed before coming to a sudden stop at an intersection after another car edged into his lane from a side street, shows one of the videos from an outside surveillance camera. The other videos show the cop blew his horn twice.
Seconds later, Richard “Randy” Cox, 36, who had been arrested on gun charges at a block party, begins pleading for help from the back of the van. The cop eventually pulls over to check on him.
Cox tells him he is unable to move his arm and the cop doesn’t seem to believe him but he calls for an ambulance to meet them at the jail as he continues driving.
At the jail, several other cops join Diaz in pulling Cox out of the van and into a wheelchair where Cox slumps his head, evidently unable to hold it up. But the cops accuse him of being drunk.
“Stop playing around,” a cop tells him while shoving him into a wheelchair.
They eventually drag him into a jail cell and leave him on the floor.
“He’s perfectly fine,” determined a cop before entering the cell and shackling his legs.
But Cox was not fine because he has been unable to walk since then and is now hooked up to a breathing tube, unable to talk, according to one of his attorneys.
The incident took place June 18 and has sparked an investigation by Connecticut State Police. It has also led to the suspension of Diaz and the other four cops, including Sergeant Betsy Segui, Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera.
New Haven Acting Police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said Diaz slammed on the breaks to avoid striking the other car.
“The officer driving the vehicle had to make an evasive maneuver to avoid a motor vehicle accident,” she told the New Haven Register.
National civil rights attorney Ben Crump who helped secure a $27 million settlement for the family of George Floyd is representing Cox along with New Haven attorney Jack O’Donnell.
“He was not offered immediate medical aid, and then was dragged off the van by the feet and thrown into a wheelchair that may have exacerbated his life-threatening injuries,” Crump said in the statement, according to the New Haven Register.
The incident is reminiscent of the Freddie Gray death at the hands of Baltimore police in 2015 which led to a $6.4 million settlement with his family.
New Haven police said the transport van had hooks that detainees are supposed to hold on to while being transported to jail but they will no longer use those vans until they are outfitted with seat belts.