Caron Nazario, a lieutenant in the US Army medical corps, was on his way to Petersburg, Va., After a weekend of exercise on the night of December 5, when he saw police lights flashing behind him .
Too nervous to stop on a dark road, Lt. Nazario, who is black and Latino, drove about a mile to a gas station, pulled over and placed his cell phone on his dashboard, according to one. trial and video footage of the meeting.
Immediately, two Windsor police officers were heard yelling orders at him.
“Get out of the car,” people shout as Lieutenant Nazario, remaining seated, repeatedly asks why he was arrested and why the officers drew their weapons. He places his empty hands outside the window.
“I’m really scared to get out of the car,” Lieutenant Nazario said.
“Yeah,” said one of the officers, Joe Gutierrez, from footage from his body camera. “You should be.”
Seconds later, Officer Gutierrez sprayed the lieutenant with pepper spray. Lieutenant Nazario’s hands remained up as he coughed and implored the officers to undo his seatbelt and make sure his dog, Smoke, was not choking on his back. The liquid from the spray trickled down his hands and face.
Lt. Nazario, 27, a Virginia State University graduate, filed a lawsuit this month in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He accuses the police of illegally searching his car, of using excessive force and of violating his rights under the First Amendment. The lawsuit seeks $ 1 million in compensatory damages.
Lt. Nazario also accused the officers of threatening to destroy his military career by charging him with multiple crimes if he complained about their conduct, according to the complaint, reported this week by The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
Officer Gutierrez and the other officer named in the lawsuit, Daniel Crocker, did not respond to requests for comment on Saturday. Windsor Police Department Chief Rodney Daniel Riddle did not respond to the messages.
The Windsor Police Force, a rural town of about 2,700 people about 30 miles west of Norfolk, consists of six members: a chief, a first sergeant, a detective and three officers, according to the website of the city.
The police did not arrest Lieutenant Nazario and did not file a complaint.
In a report that night, officers said they arrested Lt. Nazario because his SUV did not have license plates. Lt. Nazario said he recently bought a Chevrolet Tahoe and was waiting for license plates. The temporary ones had been taped inside the rear window and were visible, according to the lawsuit.
The police report also stated that Lt. Nazario had “willfully and deliberately ignored” the police lights and sirens before stopping, and “actively resisted” when Constable Crocker attempted to open the door of the police station. SUV driver.
Lawyers for Lieutenant Nazario have deposited copies of video footage from his cell phone and police corps cameras showing the two officers approaching Lieutenant Nazario’s vehicle at the gas station with their guns in hand.
“I actively serve this country and this is how you are going to treat me?” he says in the pictures.
“What is happening?” Then asks Lieutenant Nazario.
“What’s going on is you’re about to ride lightning, my son,” cries Officer Gutierrez. (Later, after hitting Lt. Nazario behind his knees, the officer told him to “lie down or I will tease you”, as the officers seemed to have difficulty bringing Lt. Nazario to the ground.)
After being sprayed, Lieutenant Nazario began to cry and insult.
After two volunteers from the city’s emergency medical service arrived, Officer Crocker approached Lt. Nazario, who was standing handcuffed near his SUV, and asked him why he hadn’t complied. to their “simple” commands.
“What would have been a two-minute traffic stop turned into all of this,” Constable Crocker said in the footage. “I don’t want to hurt you and I know you don’t want to hurt me.
Lt. Nazario said when police arrested him before, he made a point of parking in well-lit areas.
“I never looked out the window and saw guns immediately,” he tells Constable Crocker in the video.
Officer Gutierrez later told Lieutenant Nazario that his boss gave him the discretion to let him go as long as the lieutenant did not “fight and argue”.
Officer Gutierrez said he would not have to write a subpoena for obstructing justice and failing to display a license plate “if you want to relax and let it go”.
If he wrote a summons, the military should be alerted, Officer Gutierrez told Lt. Nazario.
Lt. Nazario said he would alert his superiors to what had happened.
Lt. Nazario’s lawyer Jonathan Arthur said the lieutenant informed his superiors of the shutdown almost immediately.
“He’s still really upset,” Arthur said. “He’s very, very worried about the retaliation.”