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Five Connecticut police officers charged over paralysis of Black man

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New Haven police officer Jocelyn Lavandier, 35, was arrested and charged Monday in connection to the paralysis of Richard Cox in June. Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Police
New Haven police officer Jocelyn Lavandier, 35, was arrested and charged Monday in connection to the paralysis of Richard Cox in June. Photo courtesy of Connecticut State Police

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Five Connecticut police officers have been arrested and charged in connection to the paralysis of a Black man while in their custody, prosecutors said.

The man, Richard "Randy" Cox, was arrested on June 19 on accusations of illegal possession of a hand gun and other charges. While being transported to prison in the back of a police van that lacked seatbelts, a handcuffed Cox suffered serious spine and neck injuries when he was thrown headfirst into the metal partition inside the vehicle as a result of the driver making a sudden stop.

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After announcing his injuries on arrival at the detention facility, the officers first attempted to move him via wheelchair before dragging him into the building.

Video of the incident shows the seemingly exasperated officers roughly handle the injured Cox while making remarks that their detainee was being difficult by resisting to move. Near the end of the recording, one of the officers states they saw Cox blow a kiss as he was being dragged by his arms into a cell.

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"He is perfectly fine," the officer is heard saying.

Officers Oscar Diaz, 54; Jocelyn Lavandier, 35; Ronald Pressley, 56; Luis Rivera, 40; and Sgt. Betsy Segui, 40, were arrested Monday by Connecticut State Police on warrants charging them with second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons violations, New Haven State's Attorney John Doyle Jr. announced in a statement.

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Connecticut State Police said the five suspects turned themselves in and have since been released after each posted a $25,000 bond. They are scheduled to appear in court Dec. 8.

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The charges follow an investigation by the State Police Central District Major Crime Unit that was ordered by Doyle on the day of the incident.

"The City of New Haven is committed to accountability for all individuals involved in this tragic incident," New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said in a statement. "What happened to Randy was unacceptable, and we will work to make sure something like this never happens again."

Cox filed a $100 million lawsuit against the city and the five police officers in September, which was followed the next month by the charges against him being dropped.

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"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," civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Cox family, said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for him throughout this process, and stand beside him as he navigates the long road toward recovery."

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In response to the incident, the New Haven Police Department adopted new polices and standard operational procedures overseeing the transportation of individuals in police care as well as regarding detention facility operations and those who may need medical assistance.

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