The city of New Haven, Connecticut, has agreed to pay Randy Cox $45 million to settle a police misconduct claim after the Black man got paralyzed while he was handcuffed and being transported without a seatbelt in the back of a police van.
According to The Associated Press, the settlement announcement by Mayor Justin Elicker and Cox’s attorneys comes after the victim filed a $100 million lawsuit against the city and the officers involved in the incident. His attorneys also described the amount as the largest ever police misconduct settlement.
The announcement was also made two days after two police officers involved in the incident were terminated. The officers were accused of handling Cox in a reckless manner and without compassion.
“The city’s mistakes have been well documented,” Cox’s attorneys said in a statement. “But today is a moment to look to the future, so New Haven residents can have confidence in their city and their police department.”
Cox was being transported in the back of a police van on June 19, 2022, when he got paralyzed below his chest after the vehicle braked hard. The 36-year-old, who was in handcuffs at the time, hit his head against a metal partition as a result of the crash. Officers had arrested Cox on suspicion of using a gun to threaten a woman, however, authorities ultimately dismissed those charges.
“I can’t move. I’m going to die like this. Please, please, please help me,” a police video recorded Cox saying after the crash. Despite Cox’s plea for help, surveillance and body-worn camera footage showed the officers allegedly making fun of him after they arrived at the police station.
The officers accused the victim of lying about his injuries and being intoxicated, grabbed his feet, and pulled him out of the van, before putting him in a holding cell. He was later taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
The officers who were fired, as well as three of their colleagues, were later criminally charged for their involvement in the incident; however, they all entered not-guilty pleas, per The Associated Press.
“He kind of relived what happened to him throughout the day yesterday, so it was a very emotional day,” Louis Rubano, one of Cox’s attorneys, said. “He’s unwinding now.”
Following the incident, New Haven police implemented reforms, such as ensuring prisoners are placed in seat belts while being transported. On June 5, the state Senate also gave the green light for a similar requirement by way of legislation.
“Randy entered a police transport vehicle being able to walk, and now he’s not able to walk,” said Elicker.
“… while this settlement cannot bring Randy back to his original state when he entered that police transport vehicle, my hope is that it provides Randy the future medical support and other support that he will need,” Elicker added.
“Randy is 36 years old, and we hope he has a long life ahead of him with the kind of support and care that he deserves.”