Lawsuit: Virginia police officers threatened man during stop

Apr 9, 2021, 1:28 AM | Updated: 4:16 pm

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — A second lieutenant in the U.S. Army is suing two Virginia police officers over a traffic stop last December during which the officers drew their guns, pointed them at him and used a slang term to suggest he was facing execution before pepper-spraying him and knocking him to the ground.

Body camera footage shows Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, was dressed in uniform with his hands held in the air outside the driver’s side window as he told the armed officers, “I’m honestly afraid to get out.”

“Yeah, you should be!” one of the officers responded during the stop at a gas station.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, Nazario says his constitutional rights were violated during the traffic stop in the town of Windsor. The two sides in the case dispute what happened after a second police officer joined the first one in the stop. At the time, Nazario was coming from his duty station and going home, attorney Jonathan Arthur told The Associated Press on Friday.

“Graduated from Virginia State University. He was commissioned out of their ROTC program. He’s an officer in the United States armed forces,” Arthur said. “These guys decide to do this to him.”

Asked about Nazario’s condition after the incident, Arthur said, “He’s definitely not doing too well.”

Windsor Police Officer Daniel Crocker radioed he was attempting to stop a vehicle with no rear license plate and tinted windows. He said the driver was “eluding police” and he considered it a “high-risk traffic stop,” according to a report he submitted afterward and which was included in the court filing.

Arthur said Nazario explained at the time that he wasn’t trying to elude the officer, but was trying to stop in a well-lit area “for officer safety and out of respect for the officers.”

Another officer, Joe Gutierrez, was driving by when he heard Crocker’s call, saw him attempting to stop the SUV and decided to join the traffic stop. Gutierrez acknowledged that Nazario’s decision to drive to a lighted area happens to him “a lot, and 80% of the time, it’s a minority,” Arthur said, quoting the officer.

The lawsuit says by the time the two officers reached Nazario’s SUV, the license plate was visible in the rear.

Nazario drove his SUV to a well-lit gas station where, according to the lawsuit, the two officers got out and immediately drew their guns and pointed them at Nazario after they got out of their cars. The officers then attempted to pull Nazario out of the vehicle while he continued to keep his hands in the air. Gutierrez then stepped back and pepper-sprayed Nazario multiple times as officers yelled for him to get out of the car.

“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 stammered upon being pepper-sprayed, his eyes clenched shut.

The officers shouted conflicting orders at Nazario, telling him to put his hands out the window while also telling him to open the door and get out, the lawsuit says. At one point, Gutierrez told Nazario he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning,” a reference to the electric chair which was also a line from the movie “The Green Mile,” a film about a Black man facing execution.

Nazario got out of the vehicle and again asked for a supervisor. Gutierrez responded with “knee-strikes” to his legs, knocking him to the ground, the lawsuit says. The two officers struck him multiple times, then handcuffed and interrogated him.

The traffic stop was captured on Nazario’s cellphone video, and the body-worn cameras worn by Crocker and Gutierrez, according to the lawsuit.

“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 says.

The AP reached out to Windsor police for comment, but an email was not returned and their voice mailbox was full. No one answered the phone at a number listed for Crocker on Friday.

Crocker and Gutierrez still work for the department, the town manager told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. Windsor is about 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Richmond.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Australia records deadliest day of pandemic with 80 deaths

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia on Friday reported its deadliest day of the pandemic with 80 coronavirus fatalities, as an outbreak of the omicron variant continued to take a toll. But Dominic Perrottet, premier of the most populous state, New South Wales, said a slight decrease in hospitalizations gave him some hope about the strain […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Several return to live in Fukushima’s last deserted town

TOKYO (AP) — Several former residents of Futaba, the only remaining uninhabited town in Japan still recovering from effects of radiation from nuclear plant meltdowns in 2011, have returned to live for the first time since the massive earthquake and tsunami forced them out. Authorities have declared most other areas safe and reopened them following […]
1 day ago
FILE - Pope Francis, right, hugs Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI prior to the start of a meeting with el...
Associated Press

Pope vows justice for abuse victims after Ratzinger faulted

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis pledged Friday to provide justice to victims of clergy sexual abuse, a day after an independent audit faulted his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, for having botched four cases of abusive clergy when he was archbishop of Munich, Germany. Francis met with the members of the Vatican office that handles sex […]
1 day ago
FILE - Convicted mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik looks on during the last day of his appeal ca...
Associated Press

Norway mass killer tests limits of lenient justice system

STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — Convicted mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik spends his days in a spacious three-room cell, playing video games, exercising, watching TV and taking university-level courses in mathematics and business. Halfway through a 21-year sentence and seeking early release, Breivik, 42, is being treated in a way that might seem shocking to people […]
1 day ago
People stand in a queue to receive the vaccine after the Nepalese government made vaccination cards...
Associated Press

Nepal imposes tough restrictions as virus cases set record

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal’s capital shut schools, ordered citizens to carry vaccination cards in public, banned religious festivals and instructed hotel guests to be tested every three days as it battles its biggest COVID-19 outbreak. The chief government administrator of Kathmandu issued a notice on Friday saying all people must carry their vaccination cards […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Poland hits pandemic record of over 36,600 daily infections

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s deputy health minister said Friday the nation hit a COVID-19 pandemic record of 36,665 new infections reported in 24 hours. Waldemar Kraska said that 1,390 among the new cases were confirmed as caused by the highly contagious omicron variant. Health care authorities are expecting up to 50,000 new daily infections […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Lawsuit: Virginia police officers threatened man during stop