Black Army Officer Who Was Pepper Sprayed By Police Feared For His Life, Lawyer Says
A Black US Army officer feared for his life after Virginia Police officers pepper sprayed him during a shocking traffic stop, his lawyer has said.
Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, was stopped by officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker at a petrol station in December last year.
In bodycam footage, he told the officers he was ‘honestly afraid to get out’ of his SUV, with one responding, ‘Yeah, you should be!’ They pointed their guns at him, pepper sprayed him and pushed Nazario to the ground. He’s filed a lawsuit for $1 million in compensatory damages, citing excessive force and violations of his rights under the First and Fourth Amendments.
As reported by CNN, Nazario’s attorney Jonathan Arthur said, ‘He was terrified that if he was going to move his hands below where Officer Gutierrez could have seen them to undo that seatbelt, they would have murdered him.’
It was supposedly believed the officers thought Nazario’s SUV was missing a licence plate. In the footage, Gutierrez says he was ‘fixin’ to ride the lightning, son’ – this is a ‘colloquial expression for an execution’, as per the lawsuit.
Arthur added, ‘You do everything right, you slow down, you submit to the authority of law enforcement, you do the right thing, you wait until a well-lit place to pull over if you’re on a dark road – you don’t want anybody to get hurt – and then the officers turn around and repay your courtesy with this.’
Following the incident, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sent a request for information to the Windsor Police Department. ‘The officers’ conduct we saw in the videos, it was appalling, it was dangerous, and it’s unacceptable,’ he said.
Herring added, ‘And people of colour continue to experience brutality and being pepper sprayed, even killed at the hands of law enforcement, and it’s got to stop.’
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