After ignoring Randy Cox's pleas for medical help for nearly an hour, the five New Haven police officers who dismissed Cox's claims that his neck was broken have been arrested on charges of reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons. While the indifference with which Cox, now paralyzed from the chest down, was faced is disturbing, the arrest of the officers responsible gives a faint hope for future accountability.
"It's hard to see officers charged," New Haven Chief of Police Karl Jacobson said to the New Haven Register. "But it's also what we've been talking about since the beginning. We need to be transparent… You can make mistakes, but you can't treat people the way Randy Cox was treated."
On June 19, 36-year-old New Haven resident Randy Cox was arrested on minor gun possession charges. After his arrest, officers loaded the handcuffed Cox into the back of a police van, driven by Officer Oscar Diaz. The van was not outfitted with seatbelts, and after Diaz stopped suddenly to avoid a collision with another vehicle, Cox was flung to the back wall of the van, where body camera footage shows him violently hitting his head.
When Diaz went to check on Cox, body camera footage shows the prone Cox repeatedly telling Diaz "I can't move," adding "I fall. I cannot move my arms." After calling an ambulance, Diaz continued driving Cox to a local detention center.
When Diaz arrived at a local detention center, four other officers refused to believe that Cox was injured, roughly placing him into a wheelchair and even mocking him for supposedly being too drunk or high to move.
"You're not even trying!" said one officer. "You're cracking, you just drank too much."
Despite Cox's obvious distress—at one point crying out "Oh my god, [inaudible] I fucking broke my neck"—the officers responsible for processing Cox completely ignored him, seemingly convinced that he was faking or drunk. "He's perfectly fine," one officer said after placing the limp Cox in a holding cell.
As it turns out, Cox was not perfectly fine.
According to a statement later released by New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, when the ambulance arrived, Cox was taken to Yale New Haven Hospital where he immediately underwent neck surgery and was eventually placed on a ventilator. Cox is now paralyzed from the chest down—and his legal team has launched a $100 million lawsuit against the city.
On Monday, the involved officers were arrested on misdemeanor charges including reckless endangerment in the second degree and cruelty to persons, according to Jacobson.
"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," attorney Ben Crump said in a statement obtained by the New Haven Register. "We will continue to fight for him throughout this process, and stand beside him as he navigates the long road toward recovery."
While many such injuries in police custody go unpunished, the arrest of the officers involved in Cox's injury—even if just for misdemeanor charges—gives a small hope of accountability for such inhumane behavior.