On Monday, the federal trial began for U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, who is suing two Virginia police officers accused of violating his civil rights by pointing guns at him, pepper spraying him and pushing him to the ground, all because cops and their little fragile blue egos can’t take it when a Black person doesn’t immediately follow their every demand (allegedly).
According to CNN, a jury began hearing the case for the lawsuit, which was filed in 2021, at around 9 a.m. in a federal court in Richmond.
The lawsuit says Nazario, who wore his Army uniform, was driving a new Chevrolet Tahoe on December 5, 2020, that only had “cardboard temporary plates” taped to the inside of the rear window when he was pulled over.
According to the police reports provided as exhibits to the lawsuit, the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, pulled him over due to the plates and the vehicle’s “dark tinted windows.”
Crocker said Nazario “disregarded” police lights and sirens and continued driving at “a low rate of speed,” according to police reports filed after the incident. The SUV stopped at a BP gas station in Windsor, about 30 miles west of Norfolk. The lawsuit says Nazario wanted to stop in a safe, well-lit place.
In a perfect world, this would be an open-and-shut case. Have you ever heard of a low-speed police chase? Does it make any sense at all to assume someone who drives at “a low rate of speed” is attempting to evade the police? Of course not—so why the hell are cops pulling out their guns on a man who has not presented himself as a threat?
Also, everything we need to know about the altercation was caught on video.
From our previous report:
The cops can be heard giving Nazario conflicting demands by telling him to put his hands out the window, while also shouting that he exit the vehicle.
Nazario, who is seen wearing his army fatigue during the confrontation calmly asks why he’s being stopped. “I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m treated?” he says.
When Nazario said he was afraid to exit the vehicle, an officer can be heard saying “Yeah, you should be,” in response.
Before Nazario can exit, Gutierrez sprays him with pepper spray four times, ultimately hindering Nazario from complying with the officer’s demands.
“You made this way more difficult than it had to be if you had just complied,” the officer says.
In the video Nazario understandably becomes emotional as the officers aggressively remove him the vehicle, striking him in the knees while forcing him to the ground.
“Can you please tell me what’s going on? Why am I being treated like this?” Nazario asks.
“This is really messed up,” Nazario repeatedly states, his voice cracking from emotion.
Gutierrez, who commented that Nazario made things “more difficult” for himself by not immediately complying, was eventually fired over the incident, which means he ultimately made things “more difficult” on himself by believing, as many police officers do, that his non-compliance frustration justifies police brutality.
Hopefully, Nazario gets everything he’s seeking in his lawsuit. A message needs to be sent that cops can’t just do whatever the hell they want just because they don’t feel their authority is being respected. They’re public servants, not infallible gods.
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