RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has announced that legal claims against the Windsor Police Department — for a traffic stop involving an army lieutenant in 2020 — have been resolved.
Click here to read the order.
Lt. Caron Nazario, a Virginia Army National Guard lieutenant, was pulled over by officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker on Dec. 6, 2020. Police body camera footage of the incident shows the officers pointing their guns at Nazario and pepper-spraying him multiple times.
In January of this year, a federal jury reached a verdict in Nazario’s lawsuit against the officers. Gutierrez was found liable for assault with Crocker being found liable for illegal search leading to a total of $3,685 in punitive damages. Nazario had been seeking $1 million.
On Aug. 20, 2022, the Attorney General’s Office of Civil Rights filed a complaint against the Town of Windsor for violating the Virginia Public Integrity and Law Enforcement Misconduct Act. The complaint alleged a pattern of misconduct by the Windsor Police Department.
On Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, almost three years after the incident, Isle of Wight Circuit Court Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr. signed an order requiring the Windsor Police Department to seek accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.
According to Miyares’ office, the accreditation process will require the Windsor Police Department to “raise the bar on its internal investigation process and officer training.”
Additionally, the department will be required to submit to an independent third-party review of its complaint system for incidents of use-of-force and officer misconduct.
“What we all saw in the shocking traffic stop video involving Army Lt. Caron Nazario was an egregious and unjust use of power,” Miyares said in a statement Thursday. “I join the hundreds of thousands of good and decent law enforcement officers who stand against the kind of police misconduct we witnessed. Police are the only government entity that has a monopoly on the use of force in American society, so it’s important that they be good stewards of that responsibility and strive for excellence in the administration of justice. Excessive use of force and violations of constitutional liberties will not be tolerated in Virginia.”
The town of Windsor, in its own statement Thursday, said the resolution “upholds the town’s obligation to its community to avoid further unfair and unjustified financial impositions placed upon the citizens of Windsor by the Office of the Attorney General; and it successfully ends any debate on whether the town violated Code of Virginia § 2.2-511.1 – a statute that was not even in effect at the time of the incident.”
The Town of Windsor has entered into a Consent Order with the Commonwealth of
Virginia to dismiss the suit brought against it, with prejudice. This resolution upholds the
Town’s obligation to its community to avoid further unfair and unjustified financial impositions
placed upon the citizens of Windsor by the Office of the Attorney General; and it successfully
ends any debate on whether the Town violated Code of Virginia § 2.2-511.1 – a statute that was
not even in effect at the time of the incident.
Evidence made available to both former Attorney General Mark Herring and current
Attorney General Jason Miyares clearly shows that there is no, and has never been, any pattern
of discrimination in the Town of Windsor Police Department. From 2016-2023, more than
23,000 contacts between citizens and Windsor police occurred; 20 of those cases had use of
force applied, while only six of those instances involved African Americans. Over that sevenyear period, only one complaint by any individual was validated by Windsor’s police chief or any
other authority, and appropriate action was undertaken.
The Town of Windsor has worked diligently within its police force to enhance training,
improve policies and procedures, and ensure the public that its law enforcement operates
without prejudice and within the law. Our officers patrol this Town to protect those who live,
work, bank, worship, shop, dine, and travel within town limits, and will continue to do so
without consideration of race or gender.
The Consent Order requires Windsor to seek accreditation with the Virginia Law
Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, a process the Town has already initiated
proactively. For the integrity of our law enforcement and community, the Town determined the
expense to be worth the return on investment. Similarly, in an effort to maintain impartialness,
we have agreed to include the Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney in any review of
complaints arising out of “use of force” incidents and provide such reports to the Attorney