RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Black Army lieutenant who was pepper sprayed, struck and handcuffed by police officers during a traffic stop in Windsor will argue his case to a jury at the federal courthouse in Richmond beginning at 9:15 a.m. today.
Lieutenant Caron Nazario was never arrested during the incident and is suing two Town of Windsor police officers over the December 2020 traffic stop. The officers drew their guns, pointed them at him, deployed pepper spray and used a slang term to suggest he was facing execution.
Officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker stopped Nazario for missing a rear license plate in 2020. Nazario had reportedly recently bought the car, and temporary plates were displayed in the rear window, where they were apparently not visible, giving the appearance that the car had no plates at all.
According to police body cams, the two officers pulled out their guns, and told him to get out of the car, even though he claimed to be afraid for his life. According to the Associated Press, Nazario held his hands in the air outside the driver’s side window and continually asked why he was being stopped.
Nazario also said: “I’m honestly afraid to get out.”
“You should be,” Gutierrez responded.
At one point, Gutierrez warned Nazario he was “fixing to ride the lightning” when he didn’t get out. Eventually, he pepper-sprayed Nazario multiple times.
Nazario made a total of eight claims against the two officers, who were ultimately not charged with any criminal wrongdoing after the incident. But, in August 2022, a federal judge ruled one of the two police officers illegally searched Nazario’s car during the stop.
Nazario is suing for $1 million in damages and will argue claims for assault and battery, unlawful imprisonment and illegal search. When asked if they could reach a potential settlement agreement, officer Crocker’s attorney said no, because Nazario’s team will not settle for anything below seven figures.
The trial could last up to five days.
Find full 8News coverage on Lt. Caron Nazario and the Windsor police encounter below.