Outrage After Cops Stop, Beat, Mace Black Army Officer

Windsor, Virginia Police Officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez are being sued by United States Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario after they pulled him over, forced him out of his car, pepper-sprayed and assaulted him, and threatened to destroy his career in a violent altercation that occurred around 6:30 p.m. on December 5th, 2020 according to the federal civil rights lawsuit which was filed on April 2nd.


On Saturday, local NBC News affiliate WAVT-TV’s Brett Hall detailed the incident:

The stop happened on a night in December after one of the two officers said Nazario’s SUV had tinted windows and didn’t have a rear license plate. Now, Nazario is asking for at least $1 million in damages and for the court to rule that the two officers violated his rights, including rights under the Fourth Amendment. Nazario, who is currently stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, was traveling with his dog in his newly-purchased 2020 Chevrolet Tahoe West on U.S. 460 in the Town of Windsor when Officer Daniel Crocker initiated a traffic stop.

In body camera video, Crocker said he could not see a visible rear license plate on Nazario’s SUV when he initiated the traffic stop. There was a temporary tag displayed in the tinted rear window. The lawsuit said after Crocker turned on his cruiser’s blue lights, Nazario traveled less than a mile and slowed down until he pulled into a BP gas station. Nazario later told the officers he wanted to stop in a well-lit area.

By the time Nazario stopped in the gas station, a second officer, Joe Gutierrez, had also arrived in his cruiser behind Crocker. At that time, the officers decided to classify the traffic stop as ‘high risk’ because, according to officer Crocker’s report on the stop, Nazario was ‘eluding police’ and his SUV’s window tint prevented officers from seeing inside. Both Crocker and Gutierrez proceeded to get out of their cars, draw their guns and yell for Nazario to get out of the car and put his hands out the window.

Initially Nazario, who is Black and Latino and was wearing his service uniform, turned on his cell phone camera to record the incident. He put at least one hand outside his driver’s side window after officers ordered him several times to do so. In video footage provided with the complaint, Crocker said ‘he’s not complying.’

As officers continued their orders and moved closer to the driver’s side window of Nazario’s vehicle, Nazario asked several times why he was being pulled over. He also asked what was going on. Gutierrez yelled at Nazario that he was ‘fixin’ to ride the lightning,’ which the complaint states is an expression for execution. Nazario remained in the SUV with his two hands out the window. His attorney told 10 On Your Side he was scared and also confused by conflicting directions from the two officers.

Eventually, Crocker attempted to open Nazario’s door while he told him to ‘calm down.’ Gutierrez then told Crocker to back up and proceeded to deploy OC spray multiple times into Nazario’s face. Nazario uttered several expletives and said he “can’t breathe” as Gutierrez demanded him to get out of his car. Nazario also expressed worry that his dog was ‘choking’ from its kennel in the back of the SUV. Nazario eventually got out of the vehicle after he was OC sprayed. Once standing outside of the car, Gutierrez exercised knee-strikes and Crocker helped to eventually force Nazario to the ground and handcuff him.

According to Nazario’s attorney Jonathan Arthur, when an ambulance arrived to address Nazario’s injuries, his client told Crocker that he had a firearm in the vehicle, at which point he conducted an unlawful search and threatened to ruin Nazario’s life.

“This has got to stop,” the lawyer recalled. “They knew they were in the wrong and they threatened to ruin the man’s career if he called them out on it.”

Outrage swept across social media on Friday night when videos of the encounter were posted to Twitter. Numerous public figures condemned the officers’ actions as another act of police brutality against a person of color.

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