New Haven, CT — On June 19, Randy Cox was arrested for an alleged gun charge. Moments later he would be paralyzed from the waist down — his treatment reminiscent to that of Freddie Gray, who was killed by police during a similar ride. This time, however, Cox's treatment was captured on video.
Earlier this month, Cox was handcuffed and placed unsecured in the back of a police van before officers slammed on the brakes. The video shows the abrupt stop cause Cox to fly headfirst toward the front of the van's holding area, smashing his head on the wall and falling to the floor.
According to New Haven Police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle, Cox was arrested after New Haven officers responded to a "weapons complaint" call. Body camera footage shows Cox being placed in the back of the police van at 8:33 p.m. About 2 minutes into the ride, Cox is seen in the back of the van kicking the wall. Fifteen seconds after he kicks the wall, the van comes to a sudden stop.
As the video shows, Cox becomes airborne as he flies to the front of the van, slamming his head into the wall and apparently breaking his neck.
According to Rush-Kittle, officer Oscar Diaz — who was driving the vehicle — was making an "evasive maneuver" to avoid an accident with another vehicle. The timing of the sudden stop is suspicious however, as it happened right after Cox began kicking the wall of the van.
After slamming on the brakes, officer Diaz pulls over to check in on Cox.
"What, you fell?" Diaz asked Cox.
"I can't move," replied Cox. "I fall. I cannot move my arms."
Diaz claimed he would then call Cox an ambulance before shutting the van's doors and driving Cox to jail.
Once they arrived back at the detention center, Cox continues to tell officers that he cannot move and they mock him for it.
"You're not even trying!" one officer says.
As the body camera footage shows, police think Cox is drunk and instead of getting him help, they question him about intoxication. He's then dragged from the van, thrown in a wheelchair and dragged to a holding cell.
"Oh my god, [inaudible] I f**king broke my neck," Cox said as police attempt to remove him from the wheel chair.
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"He's perfectly fine," says a cop before cuffing Cox's ankles.
Eventually, an ambulance would come and Cox was taken to the hospital where he underwent surgery on his broken neck. He remains in critical condition, paralyzed from the chest down and on a respirator.
“What happened to Mr. Cox was just terrible and completely unacceptable … and it will not be tolerated in the New Haven Police Department,” the mayor said in a news conference on Tuesday.
"This is shocking. This is horrific. This is inhumane. We are better than this, New Haven. We are better than this, America." said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump during a Tuesday press conference. He continued "This is Freddie Gray on video. And all the world is watching[.]"
The officers involved in the incident have since been placed on leave.
Nickel Rides became notorious in Philadelphia, after a court case revealed that police were using this tactic as a witness-free way to punish unruly, uncooperative, or arrogant suspects – without ever laying a hand on them. For rogue police, it was a literal way to deliver “street justice.”
As Cox was kicking the van, the abrupt stop may have been a form of punishment.
Baltimore itself also has a dark history of police van torture. In fact, Baltimore Police have paid out millions of dollars in settlements to victims who were critically injured during rides in police vans. In 2012, a woman from Baltimore named Christine Abbott sued police after she was badly injured during a bumpy ride in the back of a police van.
That same year, the death of Anthony Anderson was ruled a homicide, he too died of injuries sustained while riding in a police van.
In 2015, the world would be exposed to the horrifying practice with the death of Freddie Gray, who Crump mentioned above. As the late Claire Bernish wrote for TFTP,
After securing handcuffs and often leg restraints — but not belting passengers to the vehicle — officers transporting arrestees to the station, drive recklessly, purposefully doing their utmost to ensure maximum bumps, bruises, and worse — Gray’s spinal cord was almost entirely severed in what the medical examiner said resulted from a single, “high-energy” injury event.
His neck likely snapped upon impact when the officer driving slammed on the brakes — intentionally inflicting maximum damage upon Gray, who, of course, had yet to be tried, much less convicted, in a court of law.
That officers of the law, took it upon themselves to administer capital punishment, without the hindrance of the justice system, is the very definition of extrajudicial killing. Accordingly, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges on May 1, 2015, and a grand jury indicted all six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and fatal transport less than a month later.
Progress cutting through the Thin Blue Line of impunity, it seemed, had been made — until each methodically escaped punishment for the ‘unofficially’ capital crime.
Despite a laundry list of charges from second-degree murder to second-degree manslaughter to misconduct in office, Lieutenant Brian Rice and Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted, while Officer Garrett Miller, Sergeant Alicia White, and Officer William Porter had charges dropped by the State.
No one has ever been punished for killing Freddie Gray.