Five Connecticut police officers charged with being responsible for an arrestee’s paralysis Wednesday pleaded not guilty in a Connecticut state court. The incident left a 36-year-old African American man, Richard “Randy” Cox, paralyzed from the neck down. Officer Luis Rivera, Officer Jocelyn Lavandier, Officer Ronald Pressley, Sergeant Betsy Segui, and Officer Oscar Diaz were indicted earlier for second-degree reckless endangerment and negligent cruelty to persons. They each posted a $25,000 bond.
Cox’s attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, issued a statement following the not-guilty pleas. Crump said:
It is absolutely shameful that these officers fail to see how their actions led to the trauma and severe injury that caused Randy Cox to be paralyzed from the chest down. Since these five officers failed to take accountability for their actions, they will now have to face a trial, where the prosecution will present the significant evidence against their claims of no guilt. We are confident that will show just how little humanity Randy was shown and how that contributed to his lifelong, catastrophic injuries.
Richard Cox was arrested by the New Haven Police Department in June for unlawful possession of a firearm. On the way to the police station, Officer Diaz who was driving the police van, hit the brakes suddenly which resulted in Cox smashing his head into the wall of the van, as seen in a video released by the police department. When officers reached the station, they found Cox on the floor requesting help due to his inability to move. Segui accused Cox of being intoxicated. The officers ignored his request for medical attention and proceeded to drag his body into a wheelchair.
The incident caught the attention of the Department of Justice, which issued a statement indicating that they were “closely monitoring” the situation. It also prompted the City of New Haven to adopt reforms on Prisoner Transport Safety like “monitoring of the physical well-being” of prisoners.
Cox filed a civil suit against the police officers and the City of New Haven in September, bringing forth 19 counts of recklessness and negligence against the defendants. Cox was revealed to have “permanent paralysis below the neck” along with numerous other physical injuries he attributed to the city. The lawsuit added that Cox is facing a “loss of earnings” and “earning capacity” due to his injuries.
The city defended itself in a court filing, alleging that Cox was negligent himself. It also took the defense of “governmental immunity” against Cox’s claims.
The five defendants and the city filed a complaint on January 6 in which they accused EMS company American Medical Response (AMR) and two Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) of failing to “exercise the degree of skill, care, and diligence” required in their profession.
A virtual court hearing is due in February.