Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has joined the legal team for Richard “Randy” Cox, a 36-year-old black man who was injured while being transported by New Haven police in the back of a van.
Crump held a press conference with Cox’s family members in Connecticut on Tuesday, along with co-lawyers Jack O’Donnell and Louis Rubano, as well as local government and civil rights leaders.
New Haven police arrested Cox on June 18 for allegedly illegally possessing a firearm, without incident, after a person attending a block party reported that Cox was carrying a firearm. Video of the arrest shows officers then placed Cox in the back of a police van without a seatbelt.
In a sudden stop, Cox was thrown face-first into the back wall of the van, his attorneys said, and video shows it. When the van arrived at the police station, video shows he was still lying on the floor of the vehicle. Cox can be heard in the video telling officers he couldn’t move.
Surveillance video of the incident indicates the officer driving the van and other officers present flouted protocol, the police department and Cox’s attorneys said, not having waited for medical assistance and rejecting Cox’s calls for help, assuming he was drunk.
In the video, one of the officers can be heard saying, “He just drank too much,” then later asking Cox, “Did you take any drugs or alcohol?” and “How much did you have to drink?” The footage also shows the officers dragging Cox by his feet and throwing him into a wheelchair, which his lawyers say could have aggravated his already life-threatening injuries.
The case sparked a state investigation and resulted in the officers involved being placed on administrative service.
Crump said Cox’s case reminded him of the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who was killed in 2015 while also being transported in a police van. Gray’s death was attributed to injuries to his spinal cord.
“It’s the Freddie Gray case on video,” Crump said. “Thank goodness we have the video so they can’t deny what happened. They can’t deny that they had a man handcuffed and put him in the back of that paddy wagon so inappropriate and drove.”
Cox’s older sister LaQuavius LeGrant, 39, said that although he is in stable condition, Cox is currently paralyzed from the neck down requiring a ventilator, breathing tube and feeding tube to survive. He is currently unable to speak and is unlikely to walk again, she said.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to go into that hospital room, in intensive care, to look him in the eye – his eyes are awake – and there’s nothing I can do about it,” she said. “Knowing that he may never walk again is disheartening. What happened is unacceptable and inexcusable.”
Through tears, Doreen Coleman, Cox’s mother, said she and her family are nonetheless praying for Cox’s full recovery.
“I don’t want to see my son in this damn room with this thing on his neck, on his face,” she said. “I want him to keep coming in and out of the house saying, ‘Are you okay? You have to go eat’ or ‘Do you need anything?’ Now I don’t know how long it’s going to be before he can come out.”
LaToya Boomer, another of Cox’s sisters, said she could barely finish watching her brother’s surveillance video. She demanded that the officers be held accountable for their actions.
“I demand that the officers involved be fired and arrested,” she said. “And I call on all passers-by who were watching but didn’t participate, who didn’t say anything, hang up and recycle because I always say, if you see something, say something, step in. “
“Nobody said anything,” she added.
Crump also raised allegations that the officer driving the van may have accelerated or texted while driving. He said Cox’s family and legal team are demanding transparency from the police department about whether that was indeed the case.
The New Haven Police Department did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment. ABC News has also contacted the New Haven Police Union.
“We want the cell phone records. We want the transcripts of internal departmental communications. We want the policies and procedures,” Crump said. “We will fully explore … every possible legal remedy to bring full justice, not just partial justice, but full justice to the family of Randy Cox and Randy Cox himself.”