Civil rights

Family of man injured in police van seek civil rights charges | Connecticut News

By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press

The family of a black Connecticut man, paralyzed when a police van without a seatbelt slammed on the brakes, asked federal authorities on Friday to file civil rights charges against the officers involved.

The driver was taking Randy Cox, 36, to a police station in New Haven, Connecticut, on June 19 for a weapons charge when he braked hard to avoid a collision, police said, which caused a flight Cox headfirst into the wall of the van. His family said he remained paralyzed from the chest down.

Cox’s mother, two sisters and civil rights attorney Ben Crump spoke before meeting with US Justice Department officials in New Haven on Friday, saying Cox’s constitutional rights had been violated.

“You wonder, was it cruel and unusual punishment to put him in the back of this police transport van with no seatbelt, knowing that if you speed up, if you slam on the brakes, someone will be seriously injured? said Crump.

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Cox’s supporters say police mocked his pleas for help and accused him of being drunk. The video shows officers dragging him by his feet out of the van and placing him in a holding cell at the police department before paramedics eventually take him to hospital. Cox remains hospitalized and unable to speak due to his breathing tube.

Hundreds of protesters led by Crump, members of Cox’s family and the local NAACP staged a march Friday night in New Haven toward the city’s police headquarters. With many signs and banners bearing Cox’s face and the hashtag #Justice4RandyCox, the crowd chanted slogans like “Randy Cox’s life matters”, “protect black people” and “no justice, no peace”.

Using a megaphone, Crump and others shouted at marchers, “If I say my neck is broken.” In unison, they replied, “Don’t take it as a joke.”

The city on Thursday announced a series of police reforms stemming from the case. Reforms include eliminating the use of police vans for most prisoner transport and using marked police vehicles instead. They also require officers to immediately call an ambulance to respond to their location if the prisoner requests or appears to need medical assistance.

Cox’s family said they appreciated the gesture but wanted to do more.

“Why do you need a policy that says if someone needs help for you to give them help?” Latoya Boomer, Cox’s sister, said. “It should never be a policy. It should already be in your own brain.

Five members of the New Haven Police Department who participated in the transport remain on leave while the episode is investigated.

“I – slash we – want them fired and arrested, and I’m going to keep saying that until that happens,” Boomer said.

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