By Rich McKay (Reuters) – A U.S. Army lieutenant filed a lawsuit against two Virginia police officers in federal court over what court documents say was a violent traffic stop, where officers targeted their weapons threw him to the ground, peppered him and “threatened to kill him.” The lawsuit, filed by Army Officer Caron Nazario on April 2 in District Court in Norfolk, Virginia, against Windsor police officers Joe Gutiérrez and Daniel Crocker, alleges violations of their constitutional rights and includes assault, illegal search and detention. illegal. The incident captured on video comes at a time of heightened awareness of minority police arrests and racial justice, following the ongoing televised trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died. in police custody. last May. Phone calls to the two officers named in the lawsuit, the Windsor Police Department and Nazario’s attorney, Jonathan Arthur, were not immediately returned to Reuters. Nazario, who is Latino and black, was wearing a uniform and driving his new truck with a temporary paper tag that was displayed on the rear window on December 5, when he was told to stop on US 460 in Windsor, Virginia, a city of approximately 2,600 residents and about 70 miles southeast of Richmond. When a police patrol directed him to stop, the lawsuit says Nazario put on his blinders, slowed down and looked for a lighted place to stop. The lawsuit says an officer radioed to report that a driver without a license plate was “eluding police” and was deemed a “high-risk stop,” and another police officer responded to the scene. Nazario pulled into a nearby gas station less than two minutes after being told to stop. During the stop, which was captured by police body cameras and Nazario’s cell phone, Nazario told police that he was afraid to get out of the vehicle. One officer responded, “Yes, it should be,” the lawsuit says. An officer also stated that Nazario was “preparing to ride the beam,” in an apparent reference to the execution by electrocution. During the arrest, the lawsuit says Nazario held his hands up, offered no resistance, but was pepper sprayed and violently knocked to the ground and detained. Eventually, the police chief responded to the scene and Nazario was released without charge, the lawsuit says. After the altercation, the lawsuit says Officer Gutiérrez said he understood why Nazario looked for a lighted place to stop and said: “I understand, the media throws up race relations between law enforcement and minorities. I understand.”
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