Two New Haven police officers were placed on paid leave because of their response to an incident in which a man was seriously injured after an officer maneuvered to avoid a crash.
During a news conference on Monday, police said 36-year-old Richard Cox was being uncooperative and sustained serious injuries during the incident. Hospital officials said he underwent surgery and is partially paralyzed. It's unclear if the paralysis will be permanent, according to Mayor Justin Elicker.
Officers were called to a home on Lilac Street on a reported weapons complaint. Officials arrested Cox based on information learned during their investigation.
Cox was in possession of a handgun and was being uncooperative with police during his arrest, according to police. Authorities said Cox is a convicted felon and isn't allowed to have a gun.
An officer transporting Cox to the police department had to make an "evasive maneuver" to prevent getting into a car crash in the area of Division and Mansfield streets. Cox told the officer that he was injured during the incident, and he also alerted authorities at the police department.
The officer transporting Cox and the detention facility supervisor were the two officers placed on paid administrative leave. Three other detention officers have been reassigned to work in other locations, excluding the detention facility, until the investigation is concluded, according to police.
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Connecticut State Police will be conducting their own investigation with the New Haven State's Attorney to see if there's a criminal aspect to the incident.
Assistant Chief Karl Jacobson said protocol states that officers are supposed to stop wherever and whenever they realize a person is injured. The van that Cox was being transported in did not have seatbelts, but rather hooks that detainees can hold while handcuffed. One of three police vans have seatbelts, but a second van just had them installed, making two usable.
As a result of the incident, Jacobson said the one transport van without seatbelts will be temporarily put out of service.
Acting Police Chief Regina Rush-Kittle said the police department has halted their own internal affairs investigation while state police conduct theirs. The investigation will determine whether or not there were any breaches in protocol and what further actions may be appropriate.
Cox faces charges including criminal possession of a firearm, threatening, breach of peace, and more.
Elicker said several actions taken and not taken by officers are quite concerning.
"Regardless of what they're arrested for, once the handcuffs go on, you're in the care of New Haven PD," Elicker said during a news conference of Tuesday.
The mayor said some of the officers' actions fall short of what's expected as a police officer. He went on to say that the decisions made by some some officers don't reflect the police department as a whole.
Elicker doesn't believe the officers had a malicious intent, but that their decision-making could have been much better in caring for someone that says he was hurt.