Black Army Lieutenant Pepper Sprayed and Handcuffed By Police In 2020 Asks For New Trial

Black Army Lieutenant Pepper Sprayed and Handcuffed By Police In 2020 Asks For New Trial

The Public’s Radio reports that the U.S. Army lieutenant who was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed during a traffic stop in Virginia is seeking a new trial.

Lt. Caron Nazario asked a federal appeals court on Oct. 2 to overturn rulings after the jurors ruled in favor of two police officers he sued—Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker. Nazario claims the court made an error after finding in a pretrial ruling that the officers had probable cause to believe the lieutenant committed the crimes he was being charged with—eluding police, obstruction of justice, and failure to obey an order.

“We believe that the jury’s verdict was in part influenced by some of the rulings the trial court made, and we are asking the 4th Circuit to review those rulings,” Nazario’s lawyer, Jonathan Arthur, said.

The Virginia State University grad went viral in a video from December 2020 showing the Windsor police officers pulling him over at a gas station. The officers said his black Chevrolet Tahoe didn’t have a rear license plate, but the army lieutenant’s lawyers claim the car dealer had temporary tags in the upper right-hand corner inside the back window. With his hands raised, Nazario can be seen complying with the officer’s orders but still receiving rough treatment.

The outlet reports his appeal continues after the court dismissed his claims of unreasonable seizure, excessive force, and First Amendment retaliation. However, Crocker’s lawyer, Anne Lahren, feels justice was served for her client.

“The Judge and the jury saw the videos, heard witnesses, and overwhelmingly ruled in favor of the officers,” Lahren said.

In Nazario’s January 2023 trial, he was awarded less than $4,000 ($3,685) after seeking millions in damages, according to 13 News Now. According to the army lieutenant’s lawsuit, the veteran suffers from anxiety, depression, and PTSD because of the incident. After the Attorney General’s Office conducted a private investigation, they found that the rural town has a 22% population of Black residents but accounted for close to 42% of traffic stops between July 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.

Their investigation also found more vehicles driven by Black motorists were searched than those driven by white drivers.