Two Connecticut police officers have been fired over their treatment of Richard "Randy" Cox, a Black man who was injured and paralyzed from the chest down in the back of a police van following his arrest last year.
On Wednesday (June 7), city police commissioners voted to terminate Jocelyn Lavandier and Luis Rivera, two of five New Haven officers who have been charged with second-degree reckless endangerment and cruelty to persons in Cox's case, per CBS News. The vote on whether to fire two other officers, Oscar Diaz and Betsy Segui, was postponed. Ronald Pressley, a fifth officer charged in Cox's case, retired from the department, so he will not face internal discipline.
The firings come amid Cox's $100 million lawsuit against the city of New Haven and the five officers in which he alleges negligence, excessive use of force, failure to provide immediate medical care, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Cox was being transported to a New Haven police station on a weapons charge on June 19, 2022 when an officer driving the van braked hard to avoid a collision at an intersection, according to police. The impact sent Cox, who was handcuffed, headfirst into the wall of the van.
The 36-year-old pleaded for help and told police he couldn't move, yet some of the officers mocked him and accused him of faking his injuries. The officers also dragged Cox by his feet out of the van and put him in a holding cell.
An internal investigation determined that Lavandier and Rivera were among several officers who recklessly dragged Cox out of the van and around the detention area while he was paralyzed, mocked him for not being able to move, and falsely accused him of being drunk. New Haven police said Diaz was driving the van when Cox was paralyzed.
Police Chief Karl Jacobson recommended to city police commissioners in March that Lavandier, Rivera, Diaz, and Segui be terminated.
"You can make mistakes, but you can't treat people poorly, period. You cannot treat people the way Mr. Cox was treated," Jacobson previously said.
Lawyers for the officers said they shouldn't be fired, citing that they're being treated as "scapegoats" for the department's "inadequate training and policies." The officers pleaded not guilty in Cox's case in January.