A disturbing body cam video that shows a Black U.S. Army Lieutenant being physically accosted by two Virginia police officers at a gas station is making its rounds on social media.
While the incident happened in December, the body cam video from the officers was recently released as Lt. Caron Nazario sues the two Windsor Police Department officers who pulled him over at gunpoint, pepper sprayed him and knocked him onto the ground. Nazario was not charged with anything in the incident.
Nazario claims in his lawsuit that officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez racially profiled him and threatened to kill him, adding that their actions may have negatively affected his military career, according to Newsweek. Nazario says his constitutional rights were violated.
The lieutenant was pulled over because Crocker reported he couldn’t see his rear license plate and claimed that Nazario was evading.
However, it should be noted that Nazario says he waited until he could find a well-lit area to pull over for his safety. He also said that he had a temporary license plate taped to the inside of his rear window, which was reportedly visible by the time the officers reached his SUV. The vehicle was new to Nazario and he hadn’t yet received the permanent plates.
Nazario was in uniform when he was pulled over, as the video shows. He says he was on his way home from his duty station, according to the lawsuit.
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“Graduated from Virginia State University. He was commissioned out of their ROTC program. He’s an officer in the United States armed forces,” Nazario’s attorney Jonathan Arthur said of his client to The Associated Press on Friday.
“He’s a sworn member of the United States Army. He swears an oath to support to defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic—and the way these officers behaved, this implicates the oath that he takes,” Arthur added.
Gutierrez, the other officer listed in the suit, was driving by the scene and heard Crocker’s call. He saw Crocker attempting to make the traffic stop and decided to join him.
According to the lawsuit, Crocker and Gutierrez immediately drew their guns when they pulled up on Nazario’s vehicle and tried to yank him out of the car, before pepper spraying him multiple times and shouting conflicting orders at him.
Gutierrez reportedly told Nazario he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning”— which is a reference to execution by the use of an electric chair.
The officers allegedly struck Nazario several times in the legs, knocking him onto the ground and questioning him. Nazario was not charged for anything.
The officers claim they used force because Nazario would not exit the vehicle, though many who have seen the upsetting footage watched Nazario look fearful as he tried to keep his hands in view and listen to the officers’ orders.
We’ll keep you posted on the lieutenant’s case.
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