Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, was coming home from work when he was stopped by two police officers in Windsor, Virginia, pepper-sprayed, assaulted, and subjected to death threats, according to highly disturbing video footage that is now the subject of a federal lawsuit.
Nazario was driving along U.S. Route 460 on December 20, 2020, when he was stopped for allegedly not having a rear license plate on a newly purchased Chevy Tahoe. (The temporary plates were taped to the inside of a rear window on the passenger side.) When he pulled over at a nearby BP gas station, two police officers pointed their guns at Nazario, who was dressed in uniform, and told him to step out of the vehicle.
“What’s going on?” the 27-year-old Nazario asked the officers.
“What’s going on is your fixin’ to ride the lightning,” responded officer Joe Gutierrez, apparently making a reference to an execution by electric chair.
“I am honestly afraid to get out,” Nazario said.
“Yeah, you should be,” responded Gutierrez. “Get out!”
“I have not committed any crime,” said Nazario, who had his hands up but was afraid to exit the vehicle.
“You’re being stopped for a traffic violation and you’re not cooperating,” Gutierrez shouted. “At this point right now you’re under arrest, you’re being detained for obstructing justice.”
Gutierrez and a second officer, Daniel Crocker, then attempted to force Nazario out of the car. “Get your hands off me,” Nazario said. “I didn’t do anything.…This is not how you treat a veteran. I’m actively serving this country and this is how you’re going to treat me?”
At that point Gutierrez pepper-sprayed Nazario and violently wrestled him to the ground, placing him in handcuffs. “This is fucked up,” Nazario said. “This is fucked up.”
A lawsuit filed on April 2 by Nazario in federal district court in Virginia alleges that the officers violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.
“These cameras captured footage of behavior consistent with a disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers, who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage in unprofessional, discourteous, racially-biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly abuses of authority,” the lawsuit states.
Here is the full video. How many incidents have there been like this just in the last year?
We need to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act immediately—for starters. https://t.co/IkdXNnsBhx
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) April 10, 2021
The lawsuit can be found here: