Police accused of threatening, pulling gun on Black Army lieutenant during Virginia traffic stop
Virginia Police pulled guns at a Black Army officer during a traffic obstruction and threatened to execute him in a parking lot, according to the soldier's complaint and video of the encounter.
US Army Lt. Caron Nazario was driving his newly purchased Chevrolet Tahoe on December 5, 2020 when he met police last week on US Highway 460 in Windsor, about 30 miles west of downtown Norfolk. He was in uniform at the time of the stop.
Nazario, who is black and Latino, admitted in his complaint that he did not come by right away. Instead, he turned on his emergency lights and drove another 100 seconds below the speed limit so he could safely park in a well-lit gas station parking lot less than a mile down the street.
U.S. Army Lieutenant Caron Nazario was driving his newly purchased Chevy Tahoe home when two police officers passed him on December 5, 2020 in Windsor, Virginia.
At that point, Windsor police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker drew guns against Nazario, who, according to the lawsuit and body camera footage, was accused of driving without a license plate.
Nazario insisted he obey police orders to keep his hands in front of the window, but officers allegedly got excited when he asked what justified the escalated sweater.
"What's going on? You want to turn on the lights, my son," Gutierrez said, according to the lawsuit and body camera video.
"This is a slang term for an execution resulting from the slick reference to the electric chair execution," Nazario's attorney Jonathan Arthur wrote in the lawsuit.
Virginia recently outlawed the death penalty but killed prisoners via the electric chair for more than a century. The last prisoner to meet this cruel fate was Robert Charles Gleason Jr., 42, who pleaded guilty to two prison murders and threatened to continue killing until he received the death penalty. He was electrocuted on January 16, 2013.
Nazario told police that he was "genuinely afraid of getting out of his SUV," as the video of the incident showed, before Officer Gutierrez replied, "Yes, it should be you!"
The footage also showed that Nazario was sprayed with pepper several times, "causing him significant and immediate pain," the lawsuit said. It also caused "significant property damage to Lt. Nazario's vehicle and suffocated Lt. Nazario's dog, which was sitting in the rear of Lt. Nazario's vehicle and was secured in a box".
"Gutierrez responded by kneeling Lt. Nazario's legs to press an already yielding and blinded Lt. Nazario onto his face, ostensibly to handcuff him," wrote Arthur. "Despite the fact that Nazario was down and crying, Gutierrez and Crocker continued to beat Lt. Nazario."
Officials later warned Nazario not to complain about her treatment and threatened to prosecute him. If the lieutenant were to "chill and let go," Arthur said no charges would be brought.
Nazario was ultimately not prosecuted or charged with a traffic violation, his lawyer said. In Lt. Nazario's rear window clearly showed a new vehicle sign, Arthur claimed.
The Windsor prosecutor did not immediately return messages asking for comments on Saturday. There was no answer on the main Windsor Police Department phone line. And officials could not be immediately reached for comment on publicly listed phone numbers.
A city administrator told the Virginian pilot that the officers were still working for the police.
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