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(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) — LaToya Boomer said it was “a slap in the face” when the five New Haven police officers allegedly involved in an incident resulting in her brother Randy Cox’s paralysis while in police custody, were only charged with two misdemeanors.
Officers Oscar Diaz, Jocelyn Lavandier, Ronald Pressley, Luis Rivera and Sgt. Betsy Segui were charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree and cruelty to persons, New Haven’s state attorney John P. Doyle, Jr. announced Monday. The officers were each released on a $25,000 bond.
Cox’s family and legal team, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump, spoke out at a press conference Tuesday responding to the charges.
“They got a misdemeanor slap on the wrist, where they’ll probably see little to no jail time,” Crump said at the press conference. “And Randy Cox has a life sentence.”
The charges arose from a June 19 incident when New Haven officers arrested Cox for criminal possession of a firearm and breach of peace. Surveillance video shows the officers then placed Cox in the back of a police van without seatbelts. During an abrupt stop, Cox was thrown head-first into the back wall of the van.
Though Cox repeatedly asked for help, saying he couldn’t move, the officers did not immediately render him medical aid and allegedly assumed he was drunk when they arrived at the police station.
The video footage also shows the officers dragging Cox by his feet and throwing him into a wheelchair, which his lawyers said could have exacerbated his already life-threatening injuries.
Cox filed a $100 million federal lawsuit against the city of New Haven and New Haven Police Department officers in September.
The officers’ attorneys did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.
Cox’s family and lawyers said his doctors determined he will never walk again and will continue to require assistance with eating, drinking, bathing, and other basic needs.
Cox’s mother Doreen Coleman said at the press conference that she visits him at Apple Rehab West Haven every day.
“I catch the city bus from one side of town to the other. It takes about an hour … But I sit there all day,” she said. “He needs somebody to help him get something to drink. He needs somebody to help him get some food to eat.”
However, Cox’s lawyers noted that the rehabilitation center does not have the equipment and resources necessary to tend to someone like Cox who requires 24-hour attention. They called on the city to assist Cox in moving to a facility that can provide him around-the-clock care.
“The life care expert that flew in last week to do an evaluation on Randy assesses that it’s going to be about $20 million … just to give Randy the care that he needs for the rest of his life,” attorney Lou Rubano said. “Time is of the essence here. And if Randy doesn’t get the care, the doctors have concluded that his condition will continue to deteriorate.”
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, who also spoke at the press conference, reiterated that the city wants to ensure what Cox experienced “never happens again” but that the process will take time.
“It will be frustrating, because it always takes more time than any of us would like it to take, but we have to follow the process,” he said. “We have to follow it for justice. We have to follow it for the right outcome.”
New Haven Chief of Police Karl Jacobson said the police department had paused their Internal Affairs investigation when the state police took over the case, but that they are now resuming their interviews to determine whether they will recommend that the Board of Police Commissioners fire the arrested officers.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in July that it’s also closely watching the investigation into the incident with Cox.
The case has prompted reform promises from Elicker and Jacobson, including new policies aimed at enhancing safety protocols during the transportation and detention of individuals, particularly those in need of medical attention.
At the press conference, Boomer read a statement from Cox, who expressed optimism about the charges against the officers and the reforms.
“I know it’s only an arrest, but it’s a start. It’s a nice start to getting justice. It’s time for a change. This ain’t about me. It’s about the people that come after me so no one else has to go through this,” she read. “I have faith that all things will work out. I just have to trust the process and wait and see.’”
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