A black and latin american military He sued two Virginia police officers for a traffic stop last December during which officers pointed their guns at him, used threatening phrases, pepper sprayed him and beat him. The plaintiff, Caron Nazario, maintains that his constitutional rights were violated.
The scene was recorded in the images of the body cameras of the two policemen and in that of the plaintiff’s cell phone. Our sister network NBC News obtained those images from Nazario’s lawyer., Jonathan Arthur.
Nazario, who is a second lieutenant in the Army, was driving down the main highway in Windsor, a town in Virginia, when a police officer there told him to stop. The agent in question, Daniel Crocker, said on the radio that he was trying to stop a vehicle with no rear license plate and tinted windows.
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According to his version, the driver was “eluding the police”, which is why he considered this situation as a “high risk traffic stop”, according to a report that he presented later and that was included in the judicial file.
Nazario advanced “at low speed”, according to the agent himself, and stopped later, at a gas station with lighting. His defense attorney later said that he continued not to flee from the police, but “for the safety of the officers and out of respect for the officers.”
When he was already parked at the gas station, Crocker got out of his cruiser and pointed his pistol at him, ordering him to put his hands outside the window. Nazario, who wore an Army uniform, asked several times “what is happening”, and left his hands in view on the side of the window.
Another agent, Joe Gutierrez, heard a call from his partner on the radio while driving his service car and joined the scene. He also pointed the pistol at the driver.
Gutierrez first ordered Nazario to raise his hands and he showed them and asked again what was happening. He complied. Later, in an aggressive tone, the policeman asked him several times to get out of the car.
At one point, the agent told Nazario that he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning” [una expresión en inglés que se refiere a la silla eléctrica y que también se pronuncia en Milagros Inesperados, una película sobre un hombre negro que se enfrenta a la ejecución].
Nazario told him that he works in the Army and, after the repeated order to get off, replied: “I’m honestly afraid to get off.” Gutierrez replied: “You should”.
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“What have I done?” Nazario said, “I have not committed any crime.” One of the policemen replied that they were going to arrest him. Nazario defended himself by telling officers that due to a traffic stop he did not have to get out of the car, while Crocker tried to open the vehicle door.
Later, Gutierrez pepper sprayed Nazario.
Later, the officers continued to wait for the driver to get out of the car, until he did so while requesting that a superior of the two officers attend. Gutierrez responded with “knee strikes” on the legs, knocking him to the ground, according to Nazario’s lawsuit.
The two officers beat him multiple times, then handcuffed and interrogated him, according to the lawsuit. A medical unit intervened to treat the arrested man.
According to the plaintiff, the recorded videos captured images that show a situation “in line with a disgusting trend in the country of law enforcement officers, who, believing that they can operate with total impunity, commit unprofessional abuses of authority, rude, racially biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly. “
NBC News sought comment from officers involved in the case and the police union. Is waiting for an answer. The news agency The Associated Press He also sought comment, but has not yet received a response.
According to the reports delivered by the agents themselves after the event, they assure that Nazario “actively resisted” their orders at various times during the exchange.
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According to the lawsuit, officers allegedly told Nazario that if he complained, they would charge him with crimes such as obstruction, circumvention, and attacking an officer, which could destroy his military career. The other option they gave him was not to attribute charges to him “if he calmed down and let this go,” the complaint adds..
They said in their reports that they did it so that Nazario would not face “double criminality” because he is an active member of the Army and that is why the military justice would also intervene. “He didn’t want to see his career ruined by a bad decision,” Gutierrez declared.
Nazario left on his own after what happened. Finally the police did not report him.
Asked how he is after what happened, his lawyer replied to the AP agency: “He is definitely not very well.”
With information from NBC News, AP, Vice News.