Insurance hold-up prevents settlement in Randy Cox case
New Haven officials blamed insurance company bureaucracy for the speed bump in their ongoing negotiations with a man who became paralyzed while in police custody.
Yash Roy, Contributing Photographer
An insurance hold-up is preventing movement on the $100 million dollar lawsuit against the city brought by Randy Cox, a man who was paralyzed in New Haven police custody over the summer.
City officials said they are waiting on a reservation of rights letter from their two insurance companies, Old Republic and Allied World. A reservation of rights letter affirms that the city’s insurance policies can cover the summer incident — policies now revealed to be worth $30 million in total. Additional payout above $30 million would involve issuing city bonds or tax increases..
Cox’s attorneys and family pressured the city to expedite the process by sending a formal written request to its insurers. The written request would trigger a formal expediting process.
“We asked thirty days ago when we filed that you expedite the process because we don’t want to lose Randy,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said at a press conference at city hall on Friday. “Your empty promises ring hollow that you care. But we don’t see your actions matching your words.”
Len Speiller, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, told the News that while the city has verbally requested that the process be expedited, no formal letter to insurance companies has been sent.
Cox was arrested by NHPD on June 19 and became paralyzed from the neck down after being thrown in a police van en route to a station. He has since regained the ability to speak.
“Today is a ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ press conference here in front of New Haven City Hall,” Esdaile said to open the conference. “It has been 137 days since Randy Cox was paralyzed in police custody, and we have been mobilizing to get him justice but the city must act and settle with us.”
Cox’s mother and sister were in attendance at Friday’s press conference, which doubled as a vigil. Participants, many of them high schoolers invited by organizers from across the tri-state area, held up signs with messages like “Justice for Randy Cox” and “Help I can’t move”, which Cox was heard saying in body cam footage released by New Haven police.
Cox’s lawsuit, filed on Sep. 27 against New Haven and the five officers who were involved in the incident, alleges that the officers deprived him of his civil rights under the fourth and fourteenth amendments and also accuses the cops of recklessness, negligence and excessive force.
On the day the lawsuit was filed, Elicker said that he was open to settling, but that King and city officials needed more time to study the lawsuit and engage with insurance companies.
“I am Randy’s mayor,” Elicker said at the press conference. “I want to get him justice and I am just as frustrated as you, but I have to ask, and I know it’s difficult to even hear me ask, but I need you all to be patient as the process unfolds. We are doing everything we believe is possible to respond.”
At the Cox press conference, Crump told attendees that Cox was currently in a short-term care facility where his body must be turned over eight times a day to stay alive. Crump added that Cox is paralyzed from the armpits down and does not have any sensation in his torso or limbs. Cox can now speak, but his doctors believe that it is “highly unlikely” that he will ever walk again.
“Miss Doreen gets up everyday and takes public transportation to go take care of her baby,” Crump said. “She’s doing the best that she can with what she’s got, and she doesn’t have much in the city that caused her to be in this situation since it keeps breaking its promises.”
Crump added that Cox is a unique lawsuit because videos capture nearly the entire incident. The case is being compared to that of Freddie Grey, a man who was killed while in Baltimore police custody where he was put into the back . Grey’s case was not captured on camera.
“We saw the rough ride that killed Freddie Grey on tape here in New Haven,” activist Tamika Mallory said, comparing the two cases. “Some of you may question why $100 million and say that’s too much, but none of you would want to switch places with Randy.”
Elicker also provided an update on the state’s attorney investigation into the five cops who were involved in the incident. State police have concluded their investigation, but the state’s attorney’s office is not ready to make a determination on the case.