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Lawsuit: Virginia police officers threatened man during stop

Army Officer Traffic Stop Lawsuit
Posted at 9:27 AM, Apr 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-11 10:07:00-04

WINDSOR, Va. — 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.

The lieutenant 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.

News 3 obtained footage from the traffic stop, which may be disturbing to some viewers.

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, Johnathan Arthur, says his client was trying to stop in a well-lit area.

"It's really shocking to see law enforcement behaving this way to people who have sworn to uphold and defend the US constitution," Arthur told News 3.

An incident report written by Officer Joe Gutierrez said Nazario refused to comply with multiple commands.

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. Nazario was ultimately let go, but officers claimed they conducted the traffic stop in part because he didn't have a visible rear license plate and didn't stop for police.

According to the lawsuit, officers also threatened to charge Nazario with felony charges that could impact his military career.

"We can either sit here with you until you get your eyes back, I mean at a good distance where you're safe to drive and you go on down the road. Or we can push the issue write you tickets for no license plate displayed and obstruction of justice," an officer stated to Nazario in the footage.

News 3 has reached out to the Town of Windsor and their police department for comment but has not heard back.