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Video shows Virginia cops holding a Black Army officer in uniform at gunpoint and pepper-spraying him during a traffic stop

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Business Insider
Business Insider
 2021-04-10

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Caron Nazatio gets pulled over by police during a traffic stop on December 5, 2020 in Windsor, Virginia.
  • A Black Army lieutenant is suing Virginia police officers for assaulting him during a traffic stop last year.
  • Bodycam footage shows two officers holding the lieutenant at gunpoint and pepper-spraying him.
  • The lieutenant's lawyer said his client is "definitely not doing too well" after the incident.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page .

A US Army lieutenant is suing two Virginia police officers for holding him at gunpoint, pepper-spraying him, and throwing him to the ground during an illegal traffic stop that took place last year.

Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino man who is a second lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corps , was driving home from his duty station on December 5, 2020, when police pulled him over, attorney Jonathan Arthur told The Associated Press on Friday.

The officers, identified as Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, later claimed they pulled Nazario over because he had tinted windows and was missing a rear license plate.

Read more: Derek Chauvin's trial is testing the stress levels of Black Americans. Here's what leaders and allies can do to help.

According to a report included in the lawsuit, Crocker radioed in that the driver was "eluding police" and that it was considered a "high-risk traffic stop," the Washington Post reported.

Nazario had attempted to explain at the time that he wasn't trying to elude the officer but wanted to stop in a well-lit area "for officer safety and out of respect for the officers," Arthur said, according to AP.

The lawsuit says by the time the two officers reached his SUV, the license plate was visible.

Body camera footage of the incident shows the officers shouting at Nazario to get out of the car. The Army lieutenant, who is seen holding his hands in the air, says: "I'm honestly afraid to get out."

One of the officers, holding a gun to Nazario's face, responds: "Yeah, you should be!"

At one point, Gutierrez threatened the Virginia university graduate that he was "fixin' to ride the lightning." AP reported that this is a reference to the electric chair which was also a line from the movie "The Green Mile," a film about a Black man facing execution.

"I don't even want to reach for my seatbelt, can you please?" Nazario says, his hands shaking. "My hands are out, can you please - look, this is really messed up."

In the lawsuit , filed earlier this month, the police officers were said to have "approached with guns pointed at the car, gave opposing instructions to a uniformed soldier behind the wheel, and then pepper-sprayed him - all while threatening him with different charges and levels of violence for non-compliance," Complex reported.

Watch the moment below:

Nazario has sued Gutierrez and Crocker, claiming violations of his constitutional rights under the Fourth and First Amendments. Asked about Nazario's condition after the incident, Arthur told AP: "He's definitely not doing too well."

The lawsuit says: "These cameras captured footage of behavior consistent with a disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers, who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage in unprofessional, discourteous, racially-biased, dangerous and sometimes deadly abuses of authority ..."

Both Gutierrez and Crocker filed reports with "near-identical" misstatements, the lawsuit said according to the Washington Post.

Their reports of the incident claimed that Nazario refused to show his hands and slapped theirs away when they tried to get him out.

Crocker and Gutierrez still work for the department, according to AP.

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