A U.S. Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers for a traffic obstruction in December that resulted in officers drawing and straightening their guns, spraying him with pepper spray, and using a slang term to suggest that he would be executed because he was on purpose held up both hands to try to defuse the situation.
Police in Windsor, southeast Virginia, have not yet commented on the incident involving Lieutenant Caron Nazario, a black Latin American man in uniform, when officers ordered him to leave his Chevrolet Tahoe while he was through his hands the driver stopped side windows in front of a local gas station.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in the US District Court in Norfolk and received by the Washington Post, alleged officials violated Nazario’s constitutional rights during the stop and officials continued to threaten to “co-operate with the lieutenant’s military career.” destroy a number of unsubstantiated criminal charges “” when reported for misconduct.
The video of the December 5 incident was captured by both the officers’ body cameras and Nazario’s cell phone.
“What’s happening?” Nazario asked the officers yelling at him to get out of the SUV with guns drawn as they approached.
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“What’s going on is you’re ready to turn the lights on, my son,” replied one, using a slang term for the electric chair on a line from the movie “The Green Mile”.
“I am honestly afraid to come out,” Nazario told the officials.
“Yes, you should be!” replied one.
Nazario’s attorney Jonathan Arthur told the Associated Press the Virginia State University graduate was on his way home from his job when the incident occurred.
“He’s definitely not doing that well,” he said, asking about Nazario’s condition.
In his report, which was included in the court files, Windsor Police Officer Daniel Crocker reported that he had encountered a vehicle with tinted windows and no rear license plate, which was broadcast as “police escaped” and as a “traffic stop with high.” Risk ”. ”
According to the complaint, Nazario stated at the time that he had slowed down, had not tried to evade the officer, but had looked for a place with lights “to ensure the officers’ safety and out of respect for the officers”.
His newly purchased Tahoe was so new it had temporary cardboard tags in both the rear and passenger windows, the suit said.
A second officer, Joe Gutierrez, was nearby when Crocker’s call went off and decided to join the stop. Arthur said Gutierrez told him that Nazario’s decision to continue to stay in a well-lit area was not unusual. “80% of the cases are a minority,” he quoted the official as saying.
Although Nazario’s rear panel was visible under the glow of the gas station, Crocker and Gutierrez immediately left their patrol cars and drew their guns. They tried to get Nazario out of his SUV while he held up his hands and asked repeatedly what he’d done wrong.
The footage shows Gutierrez spraying Nazario several times with pepper spray while officers continue to order him to remove his seat belt and get out of his vehicle.
His eyes closed in pain as he resisted the impulse to wipe them off. Nazario said to the officers: “I don’t even want to grab my seat belt – can you please…. My hands are outstretched, can you please – look, this is really messed up. “
After Nazario finally got out of the car, he was hit with “knees” when he continued to ask for a police officer, according to the lawsuit, then beaten and handcuffed several times.
The officers searched the SUV and found a pistol, but replaced it after determining it was legally in possession.
The lawsuit said that after questioning Nazario, officials threatened to derail his military career “because they knew he would be harmed by criminal charges,” and told him they would not prosecute him if he “relax and.” let go “.
Depending on the lawsuit, officials changed or omitted details of the stop in their subsequent reports.
“These cameras captured behavior consistent with a disgusting national trend of law enforcement officers believing they can operate with impunity and commit unprofessional, rude, racially biased, dangerous and sometimes fatal abuse of authority,” the lawsuit said.
Both officers are still working for the department, Windsor’s city manager told The Virginian Pilot. USA TODAY tried to contact Windsor Police who did not answer the call. A voicemail reported the mailbox as full.
Contributor: The Associated Press