Black soldier violently stopped by Virginia police

Image via NPR

Image via NPR

Heidi Gilman, Staff Writer

A federal trial began on Monday about a black army veteran, who was allegedly violently pulled over and assaulted at a traffic stop. 

Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, officers of the Windsor Police Department, pulled over army lieutenant Caron Nazario, on the evening of December 5th, 2020. Nazario, who was in uniform at the time of the traffic stop, can be seen in the footage, collected by the officer’s body cameras, holding his hands above his head, inside his car. 

The footage shows Nazario asking, “Can you please calm down?”  right before officer Gutierrez responded “Get out of the car now” pepper spraying Nazario in the face. 

The reason for the traffic stop, according to the officers, was that there wasn’t a clearly visible rear license plate. The SUV, which was new, had a temporary license plate in the rear window. Crocker reported over the radio that the driver was “eluding police,” but Nazario claims that he was trying to find a safe and well-lit place to pull over. The report states that he drove for less than two minutes before pulling over into a gas station. 

The officers then approached the vehicle with their weapons drawn, and responded to Nazario’s questions about what was happening with “What’s going on is you’re fixin’ to ride the lightning, son.” This phrase is a reference to death by electrocution. 

Nazario can also be heard saying “I’m honestly afraid to get out,” to which Gutierrez responded, “Yeah, you should be.” Gutierrez was later fired, but Crocker was not. 

The lawsuit claims that Nazario suffered from physical injuries, as well as developing depression and PTSD. It is also arguing that Nazario was falsely imprisoned and that his vehicle was illegally searched. 

The trial has begun, and the lawsuit is now in the hands of the courts.