Hundreds march in support of Connecticut man paralyzed in police custody, ‘helping to fight for what’s right’

·3 min read

For the second week in a row, supporters of Richard “Randy” Cox protested what they alleged was police brutality with a march through downtown New Haven.

This time, hundreds of people started at the Dixwell Community “Q” House and walked to the steps of the Police Department, 1.7 miles away. Cox was watching from his bed at Yale New Haven Hospital.

“He’s nodding and crying and wants to say thank you to everybody,” said nationally known civil rights attorney Ben Crump. “Thank you all for blessing his heart,” Crump said.

Cox was paralyzed from the neck down June 19 after he was arrested at a block party on Lilac Street in the Newhallville section, handcuffed and put into a police transport van.

He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and other charges.

During the ride to 1 Union Ave., Officer Oscar Diaz suddenly braked and Cox slid off the bench and slammed his head against the front of the compartment.

His lawyers and family have said he broke his neck, cannot talk because he’s intubated and cannot care for himself at all.

“I’m a mom of two Black small children. I don’t want this happening to them,” said Twoni Wright, who joined the march. She said her children, both boys, are 9 and 6 years old. “You got to be the change you want to see,” she said.

Ian Morales of Middletown, national minister of defense for the Young Lords group, said he wants justice “Where these same issues keep popping up over and over again, the common phrase is ‘When will it stop?’ ”

He said it didn’t matter whether police were white, Black or brown, “to me this isn’t about color. It’s about making sure the police are accountable for their actions and to their communities.”

Angela Fernandez-Ayala of New Haven, said she was marching “to help make a difference in the world, by helping to fight for what’s right.”

Cox’s brother, Jerry “Jeff” Brown, flew up from Florida to join his mother and sisters.

“I can barely just say anything because you guys just got my heart pouring right now, feeling the love from you guys,” Brown said. “We really appreciate it. You guys supported us and our brother. We love you guys and thank you so much.”

Brown said when he visited his brother “it broke my heart because I’ve been a nurse for 22 years and I’ve seen a lot of things and you’d never think that it could hit your house. It’s different when it hits your house,” Brown said.

“I told him, ‘You fight in here. We’re going to fight out there,’ ” he said, turning to what he called preacher mode as a church elder.

He said he heard Mayor Justin Elicker and Police Chief Karl Jacobson say “they’re going to put a new procedure in place. They will update a few procedures. They will do a new initiative and make a rule. But on behalf of me and my family, we don’t want no more rules, we don’t want no more procedures.”

He said what they want is accountability.

Both Elicker and Jacobson attended the rally but did not speak.

Crump said for many Cox is a hashtag, a cause or a legal case, but, he said, “Randy Cox is real. So when you think about your children, think about Miss Doreen [Coleman] and what that mother’s going through. She’s going through something no mother wants to ever go through.”

Crump added, “It’s supposed to be as she passes an age, that her son Randy can take care of her. But because of the actions and inactions of the New Haven Police Department, she has to wait on her baby boy like an infant. ... He can’t wipe his tears, he can’t brush his teeth, he can’t scratch an itch. This is real. It’s very painful.”

Ed Stannard can be reached at estannard@courant.com.