HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Local politicians and leaders are reacting after a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army says he was pepper-sprayed, threatened, and assaulted by Windsor police officers during a traffic stop in December.
Caron Nazario is now suing the two Virginia police officers over the traffic stop during which the officers drew their guns, pointed them at him and used a slang term to suggest he was facing execution.
An incident report written by Officer Joe Gutierrez said Nazario refused to comply with multiple commands.
Footage shows Caron Nazario had his hands in the air as he told the armed officers, “I’m honestly afraid to get out.”
One of the officers responded, “Yeah, you should be!” He then pepper-sprayed Nazario, who is Black and Latino.
An officer said Nazario's SUV had tinted windows, didn't have a rear license plate, and had been "eluding police." Nazario's attorney says his client was trying to stop in a well-lit area.
Nazario is now coming forward filing a lawsuit against officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker - saying his first and fourth amendment rights were violated.
He is now seeking $1 million in damages.
According to the lawsuit, officers also threatened to charge Nazario with felony charges that could impact his military career.
Isle of Wight NAACP has issued a statement regarding this incident. They say they are launching a separate investigation into Windsor Police.
According to the branch, they are calling a meeting on Monday with the Chief of Police, calling for the termination of the officers.
Governor Northam tweeted his reaction to the video on Sunday. Northam is calling for State Police to hold a separate investigation into the incident.
My statement on the encounter between Lieutenant Caron Nazario and two officers from the Windsor Police Department: pic.twitter.com/GcfL5YeIRm— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 11, 2021
Attorney General Mark Herring tweeted his reaction:
Incidents like this are unacceptable. As our office continues to monitor the situation, the Windsor Police Department needs to be fully transparent about what happened during the stop and what was done in response to it.pic.twitter.com/YXVEGUWMeh— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) April 10, 2021
Congressman Bobby Scott issued the following statement in reaction to the video footage:
“I was horrified when I viewed the recently released video footage of the police treatment of Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. This should have been a routine traffic stop and the video speaks for itself. The release of this video also comes while the Hampton Roads community is still mourning the loss of Donovan Lynch who was killed by officers while their body worn cameras were not activated. Both of these instances should be investigated by federal authorities.
“These dangerous and tragic events highlight why the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act. I urge my Senate colleagues to immediately pass this legislation and send it to President Biden’s desk for signature. It would be a critical first step in reforming policing in America.”
The Virginia Black Caucus has called for an immediate investigation into the officers:
We must revolutionize police accountability here in Virginia. These officers must be investigated immediately & held accountable for their atrocious actions.— VLBC (@VaBlackCaucus) April 11, 2021
Below is the VLBC’s Demand for Greater Police Accountability & Statement on the Windsor Police Abusing Lt. Caron Nazario. pic.twitter.com/a7naEnHVsm
The Virginia Chiefs of Police released the following statement:
The VACP supports a thorough investigation of the Windsor Police stop of U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario. We do not condone excessive use of force in any way, and believe that appropriate action should be taken upon completion of an investigation.@AGMarkHerring @VaBlackCaucus— VA Chiefs of Police (@vachiefs) April 11, 2021
Virginia House of Democrats released the following statement:
“The footage of Windsor police officers conducting themselves in an undeniably unprofessional and unethical manner reflects why Black and Brown communities fear and distrust the police. Behavior like this tarnishes the work of all law enforcement and undermines efforts to create trust between police officers and communities. We call for a full and transparent investigation into the actions of the officers involved. No one is above the law, especially those sworn to uphold it.”