Earlier, Crump said the family, which met with U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery Friday, would be seeking to have federal civil rights charges filed in the case.
Cox was injured June 19 while being transported in police custody after being arrested for having a firearm at a Newhallville block party.
“Randy’s in a hospital bed, cannot speak, cannot use the bathroom on his own,” Crump said on the steps of the police station. “But I can tell you this: when he hears you all say, “Justice for Randy Cox,” he’s going to make some sounds!
“He’s listening to you right now,” Crump said as one of Cox’s sisters, LaQuavius LeGrant, FaceTimed with Cox via a phone held by a local minister who was with him. She was joined at the march by sister LaToya Boomer, at least one brother, the Rev. Jerry “Jeff” Brown of Tallahassee, Fla., and their mother, Doreen Coleman, who walked about halfway before being given a ride by Greg Johnson, president of the NAACP’s Naugatuck Valley chapter.
More than 200 people joined the march at its start. Others joined along the way and at Police Headquarters, resulting in a crowd of more than 300. Mayor Justin Elicker and Police Chief Karl Jacobson were among those listening on the steps of the police station.
Elicker was among the people clapping when various speakers called for justice.
“I’m feeling the love from you guys. We really appreciate it,” said Cox’s brother, Jerry “Jeff” Brown, pastor of the Life Deliverance Ministry in Tallahassee, Fla., who flew up. “You never think it will happen at your house.”
But despite a host of changes Jacobson and Elicker announced earlier this week, Brown was not mollified.
“I heard the mayor and the police chief. I read they’re going to do a ‘new initiative’” and institute “some new procedures,” Brown said, his voice lapsing into preacher mode. “What we want is some goddamn accountability!”
Boomer said on behalf of her family, “We are seeking justice — full justice.” While the lawyers will handle the legal stuff, “for me personally, getting (the officers involved) fired and arrested is my agenda. That’s my goal.”
Coleman, speaking briefly at the library before the march, said of the march, “It’s a good thing, because people are coming together.” Asked if she felt the family is being taken seriouslyand will eventually get the justice it seeks, she said, “I believe we are.”
“We appreciate the support,” said LeGrant.
At the post-march rally, speaker Tamika Mallory, who came in from New York for the march, said what she called “the rough ride” Cox got from police is nothing new.
“For whatever reason, Black men being thrown in the back police vans without being tied down — we know what’s going on!
She cited the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man, who died from injuries he sustained in a transport van after being arrested by the Baltimore Police Department over his legal possession of a knife.
“The only difference between Randy Cox and Freddie Gray is that one person died and the other is fighting for his life,” Mallory said.
“They keep telling us to be peaceful,” she said. No. We are non-violent, but we are not peaceful … Not peaceful, not calm. We are outraged!”
NAACP lawyer Michael Jefferson, who is part of Cox’s legal team said that African Americans “are police differently” and “our lives are devalued.” In addition, “the dominant culture does not care about Black people in this country,” he said.
“This is about police legitimacy,” said state Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven. “We want legitimate police in our community.”
Elicker said after the rally that “I think listening was very important — and we are listening. Last week, at Stetson Library, a number of the speakers talked about the importance of Medical Miranda — officers asking people if they are alright. We announced that policy yesterday.
“I am listening also to the very valid point that while policies are important, this is bigger than just policies,” Elicker said. “This is about ensuring a culture in the police department that allows officers to intervene when another officer is not following procedures.
“We’re not going to change the culture in a day. We’ve been doing this work for two years,” he said. “But it’s not going to happen overnight …. It’s about how we train, but it’s about accountability.”
Earlier, Cox’s family joined with attorneys and activists to call for justice and accountability in his name.
LeGrant said her brother, paralyzed from the chest down, is unable to form words.
“The man can’t eat. He can’t sleep, he can’t talk, he can’t breathe. He can’t do anything, at all, but cry,” said LeGrant. “He cries every time we come there — and all we do is cry.”
The officers involved, Crump said, had violated Cox’s rights under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, along with the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
“When a person is in your custody, they’re in your care, and you have a fiduciary duty as a law enforcement officer to give them their proper duty of care,” said Crump. “There’s no explaining this. There’s no justifying this. There must be accountability — there must be accountability.”
Boomer said there was no reason for the officers to ignore her brother’s cries for help.
Cox was injured after he was placed unsecured in the back of a police van following his arrest on June 19. Police alleged he had possessed a gun at a block party.
According to state judicial records, Cox is charged with first-degree threatening, second-degree breach of peace, second-degree threatening, carrying a pistol without a permit and criminal possession of a firearm.
As police were transporting him, the driver, Officer Oscar Diaz, stopped abruptly to avoid a collision, causing Cox to be thrown and injured inside the van, according to accounts of the incident.
Videos show Cox slammed his head and called for help. He was taken to police headquarters, where officers removed him from the van and brought him to a cell in a wheelchair — a move New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said violated police procedures.
New Haven officials on Thursday announced a host of policy changes in response to the incident.
Among the changes announced were an order clarifying that police cruisers should be the primary means of transporting a prisoner, and that police vans should only carry prisoners under certain circumstances. The new policies also require police to inquire whether a person requires medical attention both when they are arrested and when they arrive at a detention facility.
Cox’s family, supporters and legal representatives said they approved of the changes. But, they said, it should not be necessary to codify officers response in this case. Officers should treat people humanely out of basic decency, they said.
“We’re all for the new policies, but why do you need a policy that says, when someone needs help, you should give them help? That should never be a policy,” Boomer said. “That should be in your own brain already.”
LeGrant described the situation as “ridiculous.” Cox was arrested, she noted; the consequences of that, she said, should not include paralysis.
Speaking later Friday, Elicker agreed that policies are insufficient without action. He said the city is committed to changing the culture around policing, noting, among other measures, that all departmental officers will undergo Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement (ABLE) training within the next six months.
“I didn’t see this as malicious (based on body camera footage), but it was extremely callous, and I think we need to respond effectively to that,” said Elicker. “My impression is that we all have the same goal; our goal is to ensure justice for Randy. I know we come at that through different roles and responsibilities, but at the same time, we all have the same goal.”
The course, conducted by the Georgetown Law Center for Innovations in Community Safety, is designed to prepare officers “to successfully intervene to prevent harm and to create a law enforcement culture that supports peer intervention,” according to its website.
The hope, he said, is to foster an openness to intervene in questionable circumstances within the department, and provide officers with the language to talk through such circumstances with one another.
Elicker declined to weigh in on whether the officers should be fired, noting the ongoing criminal invesigation, as well as a planned internal inquiry.
Connecticut State Police are investigating the incident that led to Cox becoming paralyzed. Attorney R.J. Weber, also representing Cox’s family, said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the department’s ability to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
Avery said in a statement Wednesday that her office is “monitoring the ongoing investigations into the circumstances that have left Mr. Randy Cox paralyzed and hospitalized after being taken into custody by the New Haven Police Department.”
“Mayor Elicker and Chief Jacobson have acted expeditiously and reported publicly on some actions already taken at the local level in response to this incident, including the suspension of several officers involved pending further investigation, and they have stated a commitment to reform NHPD practices,” her statement went on to say.
“If federal action is warranted, the Justice Department will pursue every available avenue to the full extent of the law,” her office added.
This content was originally published here.