In a bizarre ending to a sad story, still no justice served. Second Lt. Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino Army officer, was awarded a $3,600 in a lawsuit that he had filed against two police officers who pepper-sprayed him during a traffic stop in December 2020. Nazario had been seeking $1 million in compensatory damages.
The incident occurred in Windsor, Virginia, when Nazario was pulled over by Officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker for not having a rear license plate on his brand new SUV. Nazario, who was in uniform at the time, explained to the officers that he had just purchased the vehicle and had not yet received the plate. Despite his explanation, the officers ordered him to exit the vehicle, and when he hesitated, they pepper-sprayed him and forced him to the ground.
Nazario filed the lawsuit against the officers and the town of Windsor, alleging that they had violated his constitutional rights by using excessive force and falsely arresting him. The officers, who have since resigned, had claimed that Nazario was resisting arrest and that they were in fear for their safety. However, footage from Nazario’s body camera, which he had been wearing as part of his military training, contradicted their claims.
The footage, which was released to the public, showed Nazario keeping his hands visible and asking the officers why he was being pulled over. He also asked the officers if they were aware that he was a soldier and that he was afraid to get out of the car. Despite his compliance, the officers pepper-sprayed him and pulled him out of the car, resulting in him being injured.
Nazario’s attorney, Jonathan Arthur, said in a statement that the jury’s award was “disappointing” and that the case “should have never gone to trial,” adding that the officers should have been held accountable for their actions. He also said that the award does not reflect the injuries Nazario suffered, the trauma he experienced, and the violation of his constitutional rights.
The case has brought even more attention to the issue of police misconduct and the use of excessive force against people of color, especially within the Black and Latino communities. The incident has also led to calls for police reform and accountability, with many calling for better training and oversight of police officers.
The case of Second Lt. Caron Nazario highlights the need for accountability and reform within law enforcement agencies. The use of excessive force and false arrest against individuals, particularly those of color, should be deemed unacceptable and undermines the trust between communities and law enforcement. It is important for law enforcement agencies to review their policies and training programs, in order to ensure that officers are held accountable for their actions and that the rights of all individuals are protected.
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