An Afro-Latino U.S. Army veteran is suing two Virginia police officers after a violent traffic stop sparked nationwide outrage.
According to ABC News, 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario has filed a federal lawsuit against Windsor, Virginia officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker alleging they violated his constitutional rights, assaulted him, falsely imprisoned him, and had his car illegally searched during a December 2020 traffic stop.
Gutierrez and Crocker pulled over Nazario, who was in uniform, on Dec. 5, 2020. Body camera footage shows Gutteriez pepper sprayed the lieutenant when he wouldn't get out of the car.
"Can you please relax?" Nazario said to the officers while sitting in his car.
"Get out of the car now!" Gutierrez responded before pepper spraying Nazario in the face as he attempted to explain that he was actively serving in the U.S. armed forces.
In response to the suit, the officers have denied Nazario's allegations against them in a court filing. One of the officers claimed that Nazario was eluding police because he didn't pull over right away, per a police report. Nazario said he was trying to find a well-lit area to stop at.
"I'm honestly afraid to get out," Nazario said during the traffic stop.
"Yeah, you should be," Gutierrez replied.
According to police, Nazario didn't have a visible rear license plate, but in body camera footage a temporary license plate can be seen in the rear window of the lieutenant's vehicle.
Gutierrez was fired in 2021 for not following the department policies during the incident, Windsor police said.
"It is my estimation that the force that the police officer used against Mr. Nazario was excessive," Marquez Claxton, director of public relations and political affairs of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, told ABC News. "And it was not commensurate with the level of what, even if he perceived it to be, some sort of resistance or defiance. His level of force did not match that."
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