What You Need To Know:
Second lieutenant Caron Nazario, an army officer who is Black and Latino, is suing Windsor, Virginia police officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez after a December 2020 traffic stop captured by both officers’ body cameras and Nazario’s cell phone. The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, alleges the officers violated Nazario’s constitutional rights during the stop while threatening to destroy the lieutenant’s military career “with a series of baseless criminal charges” if he reported them for misconduct.
Officer Crocker reported a “high-risk traffic stop” for a SUV that was “eluding police” with tinted windows and without a rear license plate. Officer Gutierrez was in the vicinity when the call went out and opted to join the stop. According to the suit, Nazario explained he looked for an illuminated location “for officer safety and out of respect for the officers.”
Nazario’s temporary tags became visible at a gas station, where body camera footage shows Nazario repeatedly asking what he did wrong. The officers approached with their guns drawn and demanded Nazario to hold his hands out of the window and exit the vehicle. “I’m honestly afraid to get out,” Nazario told the officers. “Yeah, you should be!” one responded. Officer Gutierrez then pepper sprayed Nazario several times while continuing to demand he exit the vehicle. “I don’t even want to reach for my seatbelt…My hands are out, can you please – look, this is really messed up,” Nazario said with his eyes shut in pain while cautiously climbing out of his SUV. Nazario was met with knee strikes and handcuffed as he continued to ask for a supervisor.
The officers threatened to destroy Nazario’s military career and told him they wouldn’t file charges if he would “chill and let this go.” According to the suit, the officers altered details about the stop in their reports.
The police officer who pepper sprayed Nazario has been fired. Gov. Ralph Northam has requested an investigation by Virginia State Police.
Why We Need To Know:
Police officers who believe they are within their rights to purposefully violate human rights and assault a Black man is a trend we’re seeing too often. Now a military officer in full uniform has been subjected to police brutality, further proving how officers not only disrespected this Black man but also disrespected this nation and the people who risk their lives to protect this nation. DISGUSTING.