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Black Army Lt. Sues After Virginia Police Attack, Pepper-Spray Him in Face Without Provocation

HeadlineApr 12, 2021

A lieutenant in the Army Medical Corps is suing two Virginia police officers who pepper-sprayed him, pushed him to the ground and pointed their guns at him during a traffic stop at a gas station last December. Video of the attack in the town of Windsor circulated over the weekend.

Joe Gutierrez: “Get out the car!”

Daniel Crocker: “Get out now!”

Lt. Caron Nazario: “I have not committed any crime.”

Joe Gutierrez: “You’re being stopped for a traffic violation. You’re not cooperating. At this point right now you’re under arrest for” —

Lt. Caron Nazario: “For a traffic” —

Joe Gutierrez: “You’re being detained, OK? You’re being detained for obstruction of justice.”

Lt. Caron Nazario: “For a traffic violation, I do not have to be out the vehicle.”

Joe Gutierrez: “Really?”

Lt. Caron Nazario: “You haven’t even told me why I’m being stopped. … I’m actively serving this country, and this is how you’re going to treat me? I didn’t do anything. Whoa! Hold on! What’s going — hold on.”

Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino man, was pepper-sprayed in the face right after the exchange. He was wearing his Army uniform. Nazario says he drove to the gas station to avoid pulling over on a dark road after he noticed a police car flashing its lights at him, so that he could be somewhere public and well lit while he interacted with the officers. One officer has been fired, and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said he is directing Virginia State Police to conduct an investigation.

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