Authorities in Connecticut placed two police officers on leave before a man was seriously injured in a police vehicle and then taken to a hospital with symptoms of paralysis at a police station.
New Haven Deputy Police Chief Carl Jacobson told a news conference Tuesday night that Officer Oscar Diaz did not follow the rule that someone in a police vehicle was injured when calling for medical help and waiting for paramedics to arrive. He said captive Richard Cox was injured when Diaz applied the brakes to avoid an accident.
“Something terrible happened to this young man and we will do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Jacobson said.
City police released video of Cox’s treatment and said state police had been asked to investigate.
Cox, 36, of New Haven, was arrested on Sunday for carrying a weapon. Mayor Justin Alicker said he was being treated at a hospital and was likely to be permanently paralyzed.
On Wednesday, the NAACP black civil rights advocacy organization, Scott X. Esdale’s Connecticut president said he would ask federal officials to investigate how New Haven agents treated Cox.
“They should be held accountable because this man is paralyzed,” Esdale told the Associated Press.
Esdale said the case reminded him of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died in 2015 after suffering a spinal cord injury while being handcuffed and wearing an ankle chain in a police vehicle.
Cox, a black man, was handcuffed without a seat belt in the back of a police van. Police said when Diaz applied the brakes to avoid the accident, Cox was pushed forward and banged his head against the wall. A camera recorded the incident.
Despite Cox pleading for help and saying he couldn’t move, Diaz kept walking to the police station. A few minutes later, Diaz stopped the car to look at Cox, who was lying on the floor.
Jacobson said the officer called paramedics, but instead of waiting for them, he called them to the police station.
At the police station, officers pulled Cox out of the truck by his feet and put him in a wheelchair. They then formalized the arrest, pulled him out of the chair and led him to a cell where he was lying on the floor. Everything was recorded on video.