A US Army officer who was pepper sprayed, pushed to the ground, and handcuffed by Windsor, Virginia, police officers during a traffic stop in 2020 was awarded around $3,600 Tuesday in a $1 million compensatory damages lawsuit. Second Lt. Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino officer, filed the lawsuit in 2021, claiming that the two cops violated his rights.
The jury, on the other hand, sided with the officers, concluding that Nazario had failed to prove other allegations in the suit, such as false imprisonment.
“We do believe there are appealable issues in this case, and we will take it up with the appropriate forum,” Nazario’s lawyer, Jonathan Arthur, said outside the courthouse Tuesday.
Footage from the December 5, 2020, traffic stop, captured by several cameras, including both officers’ body cameras and Nazario’s phone, shows Nazario, who was in uniform, being pepper-sprayed four times, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed.
Nazario was eventually released, and no charges were filed against him.
According to police reports, Crocker initiated the traffic stop after observing a dark SUV “with dark tinted windows” and no licence plate. According to the lawsuit, Nazario’s vehicle was new and he didn’t yet have permanent plates, but he did have “cardboard temporary plates” taped to the inside of the rear window.
In this still image from body camera footage, Caron Nazario is seen holding his hands up during a traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia.
Lawyers for the officers argued in court that Nazario continued driving for 1.1 miles after Crocker activated his lights and sirens and did not pull over at a number of potential locations, according to WTVR.
According to the lawsuit, Nazario wanted to stop in a safe, well-lit area and pulled over at a gas station in Windsor, about 30 miles west of Norfolk.
Gutierrez was fired in 2021 after an investigation into the incident’s use of force, and Crocker remains on the force.
During the traffic stop, the rights guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments are violated.
Nazario was awarded $2,685 in damages on Tuesday after a jury determined that former Windsor police officer Joe Gutierrez assaulted the Army officer. According to court documents, the jury also determined that Officer Daniel Crocker must pay $1,000 in punitive damages for an illegal search of his vehicle.
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