2 police officers used excessive force, threatened Army officer during traffic stop, lawsuit says

By Dakin Andone and Chris Boyette, CNN*

2nd Lt. Caron Nazario holds his hands up during a December 2020 traffic stop that is now the subject of a lawsuit in Virginia.(Photo credit: CNN)

(CNN)A US Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after they pointed guns at him, pepper sprayed him and pushed him to the ground during a traffic stop last December for what the officers believed was a missing license plate on his new SUV.

The lawsuit by 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is seeking $1 million in compensatory damages, claiming two Windsor, Virginia, police officers violated his rights guaranteed under the First and Fourth Amendments.

The suit, filed in US District Court and first reported by the Virginian-Pilot, claims unlawful seizure, excessive force, illegal search, violating his First Amendment right to free speech, and common law assault, battery and false imprisonment.

CNN has tried unsuccessfully to reach the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, for comment. It’s unclear if they have legal representation who would comment on their behalf. CNN has also reached out to Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle and Windsor town leaders for comment.

The incident was captured by several cameras, including both officers’ body cameras and Nazario’s phone. The footage and the lawsuit were obtained by CNN through Nazario’s attorney.

“I’m honestly afraid to get out,” Nazario is heard telling the officers after they’ve approached the vehicle with weapons drawn and order him to exit the vehicle.

“Yeah,” Gutierrez says, “you should be.”

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