New Haven chief recommends termination for officers involved in man’s paralysis

New Haven officials push to fire 4 police officers involved in man's paralysis
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:29 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 12:37 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - After a lengthy investigation, New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson said the officers involved in an arrest which left a man paralyzed need to be fired.

From the very beginning, Randy Cox’s family has been calling for the city to fire the officers.

After a lengthy internal affairs investigation, the chief said they should lose their jobs for what they did and didn’t do that June night.

“The message to the community is that we will we be transparent, we will be accountable, and we will hold our officers accountable,” said Jacobson.

Jacobson announced he is recommending that four of the officers facing charges in connection to the incident that left Randy Cox paralyzed from the chest down, should be fired.

He says it would have been five, but the fifth officer, Ronald Pressley, retired in January.

“If we gave Randy a voice that day when he said he was injured, we wouldn’t be here today. If we treated him with dignity, we might not be here today,” Jacobson said.

All five are already facing charges of reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons, which are both misdemeanors.

But the chief said the internal affairs report shows the officers also violated department protocol, when it came to rules of conduct, including being law abiding and trustworthy, along with showing courtesy and respect.

New Haven’s mayor said he fully supports the chief’s decision.

“As we’ve said from day one, what happened to Randy Cox is unacceptable and we need to do everything in our power to make sure it never happens again,” Elicker said.

Cox was arrested back in June, handcuffed and placed in the back of a police van.

When the van stopped suddenly to avoid an accident, he went flying headfirst into the doors.

Cox could be heard on camera, telling officers he thought his neck was broken, but they pulled him out of the van, processed him in a wheelchair and dragged him into a holding cell.

“It was something we were waiting for, one of the steps, but still got a whole lot more to go and Randy, he understands it, but is still processing it too,” said Doreen Coleman, Cox’s mother.

Cox’s mother and a member of his legal team said they’re happy with today’s news, adding it’s just one step in a long legal process, which also includes an ongoing civil lawsuit in federal court.

“Every day of the week, every week or the month, every month of the year, for years and decades to come, Randy Cox is going to remain paralyzed from the chest down, that’s a long time, to be paralyzed from the chest down because of these officers’ actions,” said R.J. Webber with the Randy Cox legal team.

While the chief can make a recommendation, he doesn’t have the power to hire or fire.

That’s up to New Haven’s board of police commissioners. They’ll make the final ruling.

The four officers will each have an individual hearing. Those are expected to take place in late April and early May.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump released a statement: