WARNING: THE VIDEO ABOVE MAY BE DISTURBING TO SOME VIEWERS.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Three more New Haven police officers who were involved in the transport of a man seriously injured while in their custody are now on paid administrative leave, the acting police chief announced Thursday.
The three officers — Ronald Pressley, Jocelyn Lavandier, and Luis Rivera — were initially reassigned to other locations out of the detention area for their involvement in the incident that resulted in Richard Cox being possibly permanently paralyzed.
“While the Connecticut State Police continues to take the lead on the investigation of the incident involving Mr. Richard Cox, after careful consideration of the video footage I saw, I have made the determination that all of the officers involved in the transport and handling of Mr. Cox when he arrived at our detention facility should be placed on administrative leave for potential breaches of police protocol,” Acting Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said. “The handling of Mr. Cox was unacceptable; it does not reflect the high standards we hold ourselves to at the New Haven Police Department. The department remains committed to doing everything in our power to make sure an incident of this nature never happens again.”
Officer Oscar Diaz and Sgt. Betsy Segui, both of whom joined the department in 2008, are also on paid administrative leave for their involvement in the arrest and transport of Cox, the department announced Tuesday.
New Haven police responded to a weapons complaint on Lilac Street on Sunday. Officers found a convicted felon, later identified by city officials as Cox, in possession of a handgun. He was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a handgun, carrying a firearm without a permit, threatening in the first and second degree, and breach of peace.
The video above is from a previous newscast on June 23, 2022.
In a press conference regarding the incident on Monday, city officials said Cox was uncooperative with police during the arrest.
While in the transport vehicle, Cox suffered a serious injury when the driver had to make an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident on Division and Mansfield streets, according to officials, and Cox alerted the driver that he was injured and could not move. After alerting the driver, Cox was delivered to a detention facility, according to city officials.
Upon arrival, Cox alerted the other officers to his injuries and he was put into a wheelchair and physically moved by officers. Cox stayed at the facility for a short duration until emergency services could transport him to the hospital, according to Rush-Kittle.
The first video released Tuesday shows the vantage point of Diaz, the New Haven police officer who was behind the wheel of the transport van. You’re then going to see the back of the transport van when they swerve to avoid an accident. That’s when the impact happened and Cox was seriously injured.
News 8 was told Diaz was driving around 36 miles per hour.
Another video shows when the van arrives at the detention center. You can hear officers asking him to get up and move, but Cox is unable to stand up.
Cox had to undergo surgery for the injuries he sustained while in transport and may suffer paralysis, Rush-Kittle said Monday. The next day, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said Cox’s condition has not changed, and his injuries may result in paralysis.
The video above is from a previous newscast on June 21, 2022.
“I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a law enforcement officer, I’m not an investigator… but as mayor of the city and as a resident of the city, based on what I have seen in the video footage, I find several of the actions taken and several of the actions not taken by the officers to be quite concerning,” Elicker said Tuesday. “Once the handcuffs go on, you’re then in the care of the New Haven Police Department, and there’s an obligation to treat every individual in a manner that ensures their safety and well-being. Some of the actions taken by the officers, in my personal judgment, fall short of that.”
News 8 asked New Haven Assistant Police Chief Karl Jacobson what standard procedure is, and he said the van should have stopped and medical backup should have been called in.
“There’s definitely some policy stuff that happened that shouldn’t have happened, and there’s other stuff that like the mayor said, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it looks disturbing,” Jacobson said.
Elicker said Thursday that he “strongly” supports Rush-Kittle’s decision to place all the officers involved in the incident on administrative leave while the state police continue investigating.
“The way in which Mr. Cox was treated, transported and handled by the officers involved in this incident at the police detention center was completely unacceptable,” the mayor said. “Anyone that comes into custody of the New Haven Police Department should be treated with dignity and respect and cared for in a manner that ensures their safety and well-being. In my judgement, the actions of the officers involved in this incident fell far short of that…”
The New Haven Police Department said they are making changes immediately, including making sure all of their transport vans have seatbelts and straps in them.
Cox’s attorney was also at the press conference Tuesday. He said they will not be making a comment at this time.