Richard “Randy” Cox, a Black man who was paralyzed while in police transit, asked federal authorities to file a civil rights lawsuit against the officers who caused his injuries, per The Associated Press. The incident prompted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to join Cox’s legal team as well as the New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker to make new policies for police transportation safety.
Randy Cox was arrested in New Haven, Ct. for a weapons charge June 19. Reports say while being transported in the back of the police van, the officer driving the vehicle braked hard causing Cox to fly head first into the van wall. Cox is now paralyzed from the chest down and cannot speak.
“You ask yourself, was it cruel and unusual punishment to put him in the back of that police transportation van with no seat belt, knowing that if you’re speeding, if you slam on the brakes, that somebody is going to be seriously injured?” said Crump, per AP News. Crump said he believes Cox’s constitutional rights were violated.
The city announced new police reforms in response to the uproar following the incident.
Read about the reform policies from FOX 61 News:
New Haven’s police vans will now primarily only be used to transport prisoners to court, with the exception of times when multiple arrests are made at the same location.
Two of the three New Haven Police vans now have seat belts installed, including the one Cox was injured in.
All arrestees must now be seat belted, whether being transported in a van or cruiser. Officers now must check on the medical condition of prisoners.
If prisoners request medical assistance?
“The officers must immediately contact their supervisor and request that an EMS be dispatched to their current location,” said Elicker, who noted this portion of the new policy actually already existed.
Officers will be trained on all of the policy changes over the next month and then they will be tested on their knowledge.
Cox’s family reacted to the decision with both appreciation and skepticism.
“Why do you need a policy that says if someone needs help for you to give them help? That should never have to be a policy. That should be in your own brain already,” said Latoya Boomer, Cox’s sister, via AP News.
The five officers connected to the incident were put on leave while the incident is being investigated. However, the case may be taken from the state level to the federal level if the Department of Justice follows through on their interest in the case, per ABC News.
“All suspects taken into police custody must be afforded timely and appropriate medical care in the event of an emergency. If federal action is warranted, the Justice Department will pursue every available avenue to the full extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery in a statement, via ABC News.