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Attorneys for the family of Randy Cox file federal lawsuit after he was paralyzed in a New Haven police van

<i>Arnold Gold/New Haven Register via AP</i><br/>
AP
Arnold Gold/New Haven Register via AP

By Amir Vera and Kristina Sgueglia, CNN

A federal civil suit was filed in the US District Court of Connecticut Tuesday on behalf of Randy Cox, who is now partially paralyzed after an injury in the back of a New Haven police van, according to civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Scot X. Esdaile, the NAACP Connecticut state president.

Cox, 36, was being transported to a detention center in a van unequipped with a seat belt at the time of his June 19 arrest, according to New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker. The injury occurred when the van came to a sudden stop and Cox, who was handcuffed and not in a seat belt, slid headfirst into the van’s interior wall.

He suffered a serious injury to his neck and spine, ultimately leaving him paralyzed from the chest down, Crump said.

“What happened to Randy Cox never should have happened,” Crump said, adding his client had to be put back in hospital Tuesday because of bed sores and doctors say this will “be a regular thing forever.”

“He’s going to be in and out of the hospital for the rest of his life,” Crump said. The word quadriplegic “doesn’t really tell you all of what this man is enduring,” he said.

As a result of his injuries, officials in the Connecticut city announced a series of reforms and police training requirements in July that include mandating the use of seatbelts in prisoner transport.

The five officers involved, as well as the city of New Haven, were named as defendants in the complaint, according to the lawsuit. Those same five officers — including the van’s driver — are on paid administrative leave pending results of the Connecticut State Police’s investigation, according to a spokesperson for the city.

The suit alleges various claims including negligence, exceeding the speed limit, recklessness and failure to have proper restraints in the transport wagon, as well as claims against individual officers including excessive use of force and failure to render medical assistance, co-counsel RJ Weber said during a Tuesday news conference.

“There is no amount of money in damages that could compensate this man for the injuries that he sustained, for the injuries that he suffered … and the pain that he has to endure physically, and more importantly mentally, for the rest of his god given life,” Weber said.

Elicker, the New Haven mayor, responded to the family’s lawsuit ahead of the Tuesday news conference, saying Cox’s treatment was “completely unacceptable.”

“The City of New Haven is deeply committed to doing everything within its power to ensure an incident like this never happens again,” the mayor said. “We are committed to Justice for Randy Cox for the sake of the Cox family, New Haven residents and the integrity of the police department, and once the state completes its investigation, the NHPD will move forward expeditiously with appropriate action for all the officers involved.”

The mayor said settling with Cox’s family is “certainly something that is on the table that I know that we’re willing to explore.” Elicker said he spoke with the states attorney, who estimates that investigation may be completed in the second week of October, where a decision may be made on whether or not to move forward with charges.

After the news conference Tuesday, the mayor said he directed the city’s corporation counsel “to work as expeditiously as possible to ensure that we have an appropriate outcome here and our legal team is well engaged.”‘

Elicker wanted to make clear the city has “no control” over the states attorney’s process of investigation, but once the process is complete, “our internal affairs investigation will begin.”

The investigation will determine whether or not the officers’ receive discipline up to and potentially including firing, the mayor said.

Urging patience, the mayor said “we need to make sure we see this process through and do it deliberatively (sic) and appropriately.”

New Haven Police Chief Karl Jacobson also spoke about the updated police procedures, adding that the department is “going to do everything possible” to make sure “this never happens again.”

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CNN’s Holly Yan, Jennifer Henderson, Amy Simonson, Steve Almasy and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.

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