An army lieutenant in the U.S. Army is suing two Virginia police officers after a shocking video was released last week.In the video, the officers drew their guns, pointed them at him and pepper-sprayed him before knocking him to the ground.
The body camera footage shows Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, dressed in uniform with his hands held in the air outside the driver’s side window as he pleaded to the armed officers, “I’m honestly afraid to get out.” “You should be”, one of the officers replied.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Nazario says his constitutional rights were violated during the traffic stop in the town of Windsor. At the time, Nazario was coming from his duty station and going home, attorney Jonathan Arthur told The Associated Press on Friday.
“Graduated from Virginia State University. He was commissioned out of their ROTC program. He’s an officer in the United States armed forces,” Arthur said. “These guys decide to do this to him.”
Windsor Police Officer Daniel Crocker radioed he was attempting to stop a vehicle with no rear license plate and tinted windows. He said the driver was “eluding police” and he considered it a “high-risk traffic stop,” according to a report he submitted afterward and which was included in the court filing.
Nazario drove his SUV to a well-lit gas station where, according to the lawsuit, the two officers got out and immediately drew their guns and pointed them at Nazario after they got out of their cars. The officers then attempted to pull Nazario out of the vehicle while he continued to keep his hands in the air. Gutierrez then stepped back and pepper-sprayed Nazario multiple times as officers yelled for him to get out of the car.
“I don’t even want to reach for my seatbelt, can you please? … My hands are out, can you please — look, this is really messed up,” Nazario stammered upon being pepper-sprayed, his eyes clenched shut.
At the current time, Crocker and Gutierrez still work for the department.