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New Haven police chief says officers involved in Randy Cox case should be fired

New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson

New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson announced on Tuesday afternoon that he is recommending all four officers involved in the Randy Cox case be fired.

Cox was left paralyzed from the chest down after he was handcuffed and put in the back of a police van without a seat belt on June 19, 2022. The van, which was traveling over the speed limit, made a short stop which resulted in Cox’s body being thrown against the door.

Officers Oscar Diaz, Jocelyn Lavandier, Luis Rivera, Ronald Pressley and Sgt. Betsy Segui were all placed on administrative leave in June and arrested in November. They all pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment and cruelty misdemeanors.

Pressley retired in January and was therefore unable to be recommended for termination.

Two unnamed officers involved in the case will also be reprimanded by the department.

Jacobson said his department has gone through training and changed its policies to avoid a similar incident. They have also put seat belts in their prisoner vans, which are now only used for transport to court.

“If we gave Randy a voice that day when he said he was injured, we wouldn't be here today,” Jacobson said. “If we treated him with dignity, we might not be here today. If we were neutral in our decision-making, when he said he was injured, we might not be here today.”

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said he supports Jacobson’s decision.

Jacobson and Elicker held separate press conferences, a decision that both leaders said demonstrated the separation of power between the police department and the mayor's office.

“What happened to Randy Cox is unacceptable,” Elicker said. “And we need to do everything in our power to ensure that it never happens again. When someone enters police custody, they deserve the dignity, respect, care and safety that any of us would want for any family member of ours.”

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker

Doreen Coleman, Cox’s mother, said today’s decision felt like a step in the right direction. She said her son is following the legal proceedings from the long-term care facility where he is currently living.

“He kind of understands it, but he’s still processing it too,” Coleman said.

Doreen Coleman, Randy Cox's mother and a member of Cox's legal team, R.J. Weber.
Molly Ingram
/
WSHU
Doreen Coleman, Randy Cox's mother and a member of Cox's legal team, R.J. Weber.

The Board of Police Commissioners in New Haven will vote on the terminations in April. Each officer will have their own hearing with the board.

If they vote to fire the officers, the officers will be able to contest the decision.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.