Cops in Paralysis Case Start to Get Jobs Back

Chris Powell

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Among the principles of liberalism in Connecticut is that minorities are always right. Another one is that government employee unions are always right too. So maybe that’s why there has been no complaint from liberals about the Jan. 19 decision of the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration to overturn the New Haven Police Department’s firing of Officer Oscar Diaz and order his reinstatement after a 15-day suspension.

Diaz was driving the police van in which an arrested man, Randy Cox, suffered a broken neck during transport to police headquarters in June 2022. A car at an intersection ahead of the van ran a stop sign and Diaz stopped the van abruptly to prevent a crash. The van lacked seatbelts and Cox, handcuffed but unsecured, quickly slid forward head-first into the van’s cargo compartment wall, suffering his grave injury.

Cox had been arrested because he was drunk, illegally carrying a gun, and brandishing it at a street festival, scaring people. In the van he resisted arrest, yelling, kicking, and rolling on the floor. When the van arrived at headquarters Cox protested that he could not get out as ordered because he was so badly hurt. Other officers dismissed him as a drunk faking injury and pulled and dragged him to get him to a cell.

Cox is Black, so his injury in police custody sparked shrieks of racism around the country, though some of the five officers who handled him are also members of minority groups. Four of the five, including Diaz, were fired, the fifth retired, all five are facing criminal prosecution for cruelty and reckless endangerment, and New Haven paid Cox $45 million to settle his damage lawsuit. Paralyzed, Cox likely will need round-the-clock care for life.

Awful as the case is, the arbitration board concluded there was no proof that Diaz caused Cox’s injury or did anything to harm him. Indeed, it won’t be surprising if the arbitration board makes similarly sympathetic findings in regard to the other fired officers, also replacing their dismissals with unpaid suspensions, since Cox suffered his injury before they took him from the van and they hadn’t meant to harm him.

Indeed, if Cox had been white, the whole incident might be dismissed as understandable, not a scandal at all.

Yes, the police van should have had seatbelts, and officers should not assume that drunks resisting arrest are lying when they claim to be badly hurt. As a matter of law New Haven’s liability is undeniable. But it is hard to see malice here, much less racism.

Racial hysteria and liberalism’s principles compelled New Haven, always politically correct, to fire the cops. While the city will appeal Diaz’s reinstatement, criticism of the arbitration order now appears to be precluded by liberalism’s countervailing presumption in favor of government employee unions, and now that Cox has his damage award, racism hysteria can move on.

Maybe someday there will even be tacit recognition that the proximate cause of Randy Cox’s catastrophe was Cox himself — recognition that testing government’s competence is seldom a good idea and that getting drunk, possessing a gun illegally, and waving it at people, thereby becoming a gun nut, invites such a test. 

NO GREAT GAIN: Connecticut has seen a small net gain in population, 11,264 people, since 2020, the Yankee Institute reports, citing data from the U.S. Census Bureau. But it’s not exactly good news.

For the departure from Connecticut of 21,485 residents during 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 was offset mainly because 37,453 people arrived in the state through “international migration,” and while the Census Bureau doesn’t make the distinction, many if not most of those people probably entered the country illegally.

Connecticut may be fortunate that the flood of illegal immigrants into New York City has not yet spilled over into the state. But the city is screaming that it can’t handle any more. So maybe this year heavily Democratic Connecticut will get more of a taste of the Biden administration’s open-borders policy than will go down well politically.

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Chris Powell has written about Connecticut government and politics for many years. (CPowell@cox.net)