Police pull guns on and spray Black-Latino Army officer during traffic stop, lawsuit says - ABC News

  

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Via:  tacos  •  one month ago  •  22 comments

By:   ABC News

Police pull guns on and spray Black-Latino Army officer during traffic stop, lawsuit says - ABC News
Two Virginia police officers have been sued for drawing their guns on a uniformed Army officer during a traffic stop and pepper spraying him.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Caron Nazario said his constitutional rights were violated.

ByMarlene Lenthang April 10, 2021, 5:17 PM • 7 min read Share to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this article

Two Virginia police officers have been sued for allegedly drawing their guns on a uniformed Army officer during a traffic stop and spraying him with a substance.

On Dec. 5, 2020, Windsor police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker pulled over U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, while he was dressed in uniform, according to the lawsuit filed April 2.

They pulled him over in a newly purchased Chevrolet Tahoe SUV for not having a rear license plate, according to the lawsuit. Nazario was returning home from his duty station at the time, the lawsuit said.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia in Norfolk, claims the officers violated Nazario's constitutional rights and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Police body camera footage shows the moment officers pursued Nazario, who then pulled over at a well-lit gas station.

According to the report Officer Crocker submitted after the incident, Crocker said the driver was "eluding police" and he considered it to be a high-risk traffic stop.

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Nazario wasn't eluding police, he was trying to stop in a well-lit area for his safety and for the officers' safety, according to the lawsuit.

Gutierrez acknowledged that Nazario's decision to drive to a lighted area occurs "a lot ... 80% of the time," and that the maneuver informed him that Nazario was "at least 80% probability, a minority," the lawsuit claims.

The vehicle was so new Nazario hadn't yet gotten permanent plates, but had his cardboard temporary plates taped inside the rear window of the vehicle. When officers reached inside his car, that plate was visible in the rear, the lawsuit stated.

In the video footage, officers shout at Nazario to put his arms out of the window and approach him with their guns drawn.

"I'm honestly afraid to get out of the car," Nazario is heard saying in the footage.

"Yeah you should be," one officer replied.

The officers then threaten to arrest him for not listening to their orders to get out of the car and for "obstruction of justice," the video shows.

"I'm actively serving this country and this is how you're going to treat me?" Nazario says. Seconds later, an officer appears to spray him in his face with a substance in the video.

Nazario kept his hands up in the air as the officers yelled at him to get out and he shut his eyes, visibly reeling from the spray.

"I don't even want to reach for my seatbelt, can you please? ... My hands are out, can you please -- look, this is really messed up," Nazario says.

The officers are heard shouting conflicting orders at him, telling him to put his hands out of the window while telling him to open the door and get out.

At one point, Gutierrez told Nazario he was "fixin' to ride the lightning," according to the lawsuit. The phrase was a line from the movie "The Green Mile," a film about a Black man facing execution, and references the electric chair, the lawsuit states.

MORE: New York City police arrest man for 3 separate attacks on Asian Americans

When he finally got out of the car the video shows the officers repeatedly telling Nazario to get on the ground and then force him down, according to the lawsuit.

The officers struck Nazaro with their fists, knees and hands, forcing him onto his face and placed him in handcuffs, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the officers used this force despite not having any probable cause to believe Nazario had committed a crime. Nazario was not charged in the incident.

"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 said.

Gutierrez wrote in his report that he felt he had to choose between charging Nazario with obstruction or releasing him without any charges.

"I made the decision to release him without any charges," his report said according to The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk . "The reason for this decision is simple; the military is the only place where double jeopardy applies. Meaning that whatever happened in civil court, the military could still take action against him. Being a military veteran, I did not want to see his career ruined over one erroneous decision."

Crocker said in his report he chose against filing charges because Nazario was active duty military and didn't want to see his career ruined for "poor judgement."

Crocker and Gutierrez still work for the department, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Windsor is located about 70 miles southeast of Richmond.

The Windsor Police Department did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Tacos!
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Tacos!    one month ago

This is what people are talking about. This is what’s wrong with policing today. 

This cop gets out of his car with his gun drawn. What for? It’s instant escalation. You pulled a guy over for missing tags (which it turns out he had after all) and you point a gun at him? And then you wonder why he’s terrified to move?

And then pepper sprayed. And kicked. Again, for what?

By the way, a cop ordering someone out of the car is a lawful order, but it can’t be for no reason. It’s supposed to be for officer safety. No reasonable person (I believe) can look at this situation and think safety was a concern. The driver had done nothing threatening and they weren’t even on the road, so traffic safety wasn’t an issue. They were in a well lit gas station.

So is this cop a bully or a pussy? Sorry, but I don’t see another option.

 
 
 
Ender
PhD Principal
1.1  Ender  replied to  Tacos! @1    one month ago

Imo he was smart to drive to a well lit location, even though it pissed off the asshole.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
1.2  Thrawn 31  replied to  Tacos! @1    one month ago
This cop gets out of his car with his gun drawn. What for? It’s instant escalation.

Exactly right. How in the hell do you expect people or a situation to remain calm when you come right out of the gate with a gun drawn and shouting orders (and in this case conflicting orders) at someone? Those actions right away cause the situation to become much more dangerous for all involved. 

And then pepper sprayed. And kicked. Again, for what?

For real, the guy was clearly not a threat, but wasn’t moving cuz those two idiots were yelling at him to do two different things with guns drawn. Maybe they should get on the same fucking page before they expect someone else to go along with their instructions? How they didn’t have one of the two designated to run point is beyond me.

And somehow it seems these morons haven’t been fired yet.

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
2  pat wilson    one month ago

These cops should be fired.

 
 
 
Ender
PhD Principal
2.1  Ender  replied to  pat wilson @2    one month ago

Should be...

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3  JohnRussell    one month ago

Americans in general need to more realize that all cops are not "good guys".  Many cops have so called type A personalities, including a need to dominate over others. That is why they are attracted to become cops in the first place, so they can boss others around. Hopefully, usually, this desire to dominate can be successfully incorporated into a reasonable performance of their job duties, but this is not always the case. 

 
 
 
charger 383
PhD Quiet
3.1  charger 383  replied to  JohnRussell @3    one month ago

Well Stated

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
3.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  JohnRussell @3    one month ago
Americans in general need to more realize that all cops are not "good guys".

Unfortunately, this does not fit in well with the "back the blue" mentality.  Mentioning that there is a problem with some cops gets you screamed at as anti-cop in general.  "Back the blue" can't admit that there are problem cops, even in the face of ample evidence of their existence.  They will always blame the person arrested, or in this case, attacked, but not even detained, let alone arrested.  "He should have stopped right away.  He should have gotten out of the car when ordered (even though he was belted in, in accordance with the law, and was afraid he'd get shot if he put his hands inside to unbuckle his seatbelt)."  There's always a reason it's not the cops' fault, even when it is.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.2    one month ago

I think that we have all seen evidence somewhere or other of cops being unreasonable. Objectively I dont think this is even controversial. The question might be "what percentage of cops are that way" and is it more than the population in general?   I happen to think it is.  Because of where I live in Chicago , near the city limits and thus in an area that is desirable for police and other city workers to live and still meet the city's residency requirements,  I live in a neighborhood where many hundreds of cops live (and firemen) , and I have had neighbors friends and relatives that have been city or suburban cops.  One of my godsons was a cop for 7 years until he became a fireman instead and one of my best friends was a Chicago cop for over 30 years. Most of the cops I have known personally have 'macho' personalities. 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
3.2.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2.1    one month ago
Objectively I dont think this is even controversial.

Objectively, it shouldn't be.  But it is.

Most cops I've known have been good people, not especially prone to abuse their power.  But that doesn't mean that all cops are that way.  When I see a video like this, or of George Floyd, or of an autistic man being shot at (and missed, with his caretaker taking the bullet) while sitting on a street threatening nobody, it is clear to me that there are cops who either are unsuited to the job, or are inadequately trained for it.

But there is a mentality among many which would deny this or excuse it.  They polarize the issue.  If you criticize a bad cop, you must be against all cops.  It's an obviously false narrative, but many buy into it, anyway.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.2.3  JohnRussell  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.2.2    one month ago
But there is a mentality among many which would deny this or excuse it.  They polarize the issue.  If you criticize a bad cop, you must be against all cops.  It's an obviously false narrative, but many buy into it, anyway.

I agree , saying they are all good or they are all bad is not an appropriate way to look at individual police officers. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.2.4  JohnRussell  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.2.2    one month ago

I watched the video with the article, and I think that the cops were unable to tone down their response because they were afraid of looking foolish. They were thrown off by the driver reasonably asking them why he was being stopped . It also seems reasonable for him to say he was afraid to get out of the car as that is when most of the incidents of police brutality occur. He had both his hands in the air, empty, so unless he dropped them to grab for something he was not a threat. At that point the cops should have simply asked why he didnt have a license plate in the back. He had the answer - he had a temporary one affixed to the back window.  The cops began by being unreasonable and had to keep doubling down because that is the way these particular two cops are. 

 
 
 
Ender
PhD Principal
3.2.5  Ender  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.2.2    one month ago

I have seen good and bad.

Level head vs hothead...

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
3.2.6  sandy-2021492  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2.4    one month ago

Agreed.  They originally turned their lights on because they couldn't see his tags.  The appropriate response, once he'd pulled over safely and it became apparent that he did in fact have tags, would have been to explain the situation, thank him for his cooperation, and wish him a good night.

That's exactly how it ended the last time I was pulled over - for a burned-out headlight.  I actually had a new bulb, and was heading home to put it in while parked in my garage, where I wouldn't have to do so by flashlight, but I was pulled over before I got there.  The cop told me the problem, I told him I had a bulb and was going to fix the problem, and we wished each other a good evening.  No pepper spray.  No threats.  No bruised egos.

Nazario's traffic stop should have ended like mine did.

 
 
 
Ender
PhD Principal
3.2.7  Ender  replied to  sandy-2021492 @3.2.6    one month ago

I am lazy and rode around with one headlight for about a year.

Never once stopped or pulled over, even when I knew they could see it.

 
 
 
321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu
Sophomore Principal
3.2.8  321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu   replied to  Ender @3.2.5    one month ago

I agree. Like in many professions there are many kinds of personalities with many different reasons for being in that position.

When I  was a kid my best friend's father was chief of police and I met a lot of officers at their home. (it was a small town) None of them ever wanted to kill anyone, but it did happen. 

Even there we had asshole cops and decent cops and most of the town knew which was which. 

Some people just should not have power over others and some people do well with having power. 

Hell, I've seen crossing guards that shouldn't be crossing guards even. 

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
3.2.9  sandy-2021492  replied to  Ender @3.2.7    one month ago

My older car goes through headlights like underwear - I'm always changing them.  I can't say I've always been diligent about doing so quickly, but I was actually trying that time.  Just hadn't made it home yet.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
4  Thrawn 31    one month ago

This is yet another example of why a lot of people don’t trust cops.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
5  seeder  Tacos!    one month ago

Some people will probably think he should have gotten out of the car immediately, but I totally feel this guy. I’ve had cops point their guns at my head. You can see right up the barrel and it puts you literally and figuratively into tunnel vision. It’s paralyzing.

I didn’t want to move. You want cops to see your hands. You don’t want to reach for your wallet, or the car door latch, or anything. When you haven’t done anything wrong, and you clearly don’t have a weapon, but a cop is pointing his weapon at you anyway? You know he’s already irrational. You figure the slightest provocation will make him pull the trigger.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
5.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  Tacos! @5    one month ago

He couldn't get out of the car.  He told them he had his seatbelt on.  He couldn't both undo his seatbelt and keep his hands visible.  So, like you, I don't blame him.  Their orders were contradictory.  Following the order to get out of the car could have gotten him shot for moving his hands, and they had told him that he should be afraid to get out of the car, anyway.

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
5.1.1  seeder  Tacos!  replied to  sandy-2021492 @5.1    one month ago
He couldn't both undo his seatbelt and keep his hands visible.

Exactly. In that moment, you know that if you reach for the seatbelt or try to unlock the door, you die.

 
 
 
sandy-2021492
Professor Principal
5.1.2  sandy-2021492  replied to  Tacos! @5.1.1    one month ago

This story is all over my Facebook newsfeed from news outlets.  There are, of course, people blaming Nazario for waiting to pull over at a gas station, and blaming him for not getting out of the vehicle.  They disregard the orders to keep his hands visible.  "Just comply!", with no recognition that compliance might have gotten him killed.

It's a bit disgusting to read, TBH.

 
 
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