Police Points Gun, Pepper-Sprays Black-Latino Army Officer Amid Traffic Stop
After allegedly drawing their guns on a uniformed Army officer during a traffic stop and spraying him with a substance last December, two Virginia police officers have been sued. One of them has since been terminated.
Based on the lawsuit filed April 2, on December 4, 2020, Windsor police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker pulled over U. S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino. He was still wearing his uniform when he was stopped by the officers.
Black-Latino Officer Files Lawsuit
According to ABC News, the suit filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia in Norfolk claims that the officers violated the constitutional rights of Nazario.
Moreover, the lawsuit stated that two officers pulled over the uniformed Army officer in a newly purchased Chevrolet Tahoe SUV for not having a rear license plate. Nazario was returning home after working his duty in his station at the time. A police body camera footage also showed the moment the officer pursued the U.S. Army officer, who pulled over a well-lit gas station.
In addition, the report of officer Crocker which was submitted after the incident stated that the driver was eluding police and he considered it to be a high-risk traffic stop.
But in the lawsuit, Nazario denied it and explained he was just trying to stop in a well-lit area wherein he will be safe and for other officers' safety, too. Nazario shared in the suit that the stretch of road, just west of Norfolk, Va., was dark, and there is no area wherein he can make a stop safely that is why he slowed down, put his blinker on for about a mile down the road, NPR reported.
Furthermore, one of the officers, Joe Gutierrez, acknowledged that the decision of Nazario in driving to a lighted area happens a lot. Since the vehicle was so new, the U.S. Army officer had not yet gotten permanent plates, but he had put a temporary cardboard plate taped inside the rear window of his vehicle. The lawsuit stated that officers reached inside his car, and the plate was visible in the rear.
On the other hand, video footage showed that officers were shouting at Nazario to put his arms outside the vehicle's window and approached him with their guns drawn. Nazario can even be heard saying that he is afraid to get out of the car, to which Gutierrez allegedly replied, "You should be."
The lawsuit also mentioned that the footage captured behavior consistent with a "disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers," who believe that they can operate with complete impunity, engaging in unprofessional, racially biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly abuses of authority.
According to the statement released Sunday evening by the town of Windsor, Officer Gutierrez was terminated in the department since the incident. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam also issued a statement and called the incident "disturbing." The "angered" governor directed the state police to conduct an independent investigation, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
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WATCH: Police Pull Guns On Afro-Latino Army Officer In Traffic Stop | NBC News - NBC News
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