Federal Trial Begins for Army Lieutenant Pepper Sprayed, Assaulted by Police During Traffic Stop

Federal Trial Begins for Army Lieutenant Pepper Sprayed, Assaulted by Police During Traffic Stop

In December 2020, Army Second Lt. Caron Nazario, an Afro-Latino man, was stopped by two Windsor police officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, in Virginia because he didn’t have a visible license plate on his Chevrolet Tahoe. 

At the time, Nazario had recently purchased the vehicle and placed a temporary license plate on the rear window of his SUV. This traffic stop, which was captured in a video from the officers’ body camera, made headlines because of the aggressive force Gutierrez and Crocker used to get Nazario out of the car, including drawing their guns and pepper spraying him.

A short time later, Nazario got out and was pushed to the ground. The officers would also search his Chevrolet Tahoe. In April 2021, months after the incident and the footage was released to the general public, Nazario filed a $1 million federal lawsuit against Gutierrez and Crocker. According to ABC News, Nazario  sued the police officers for “violating his constitutional rights, assault, and false imprisonment.” 

In the court documents, Nazario claimed that he was unlawfully stopped, and his vehicle was searched without cause. Around that time, Gutierrez was fired from the Windsor Police Department after the recording prompted an independent investigation by the Virginia governor, while Crocker remained on the force. 

Gutierrez and Crocker responded to Nazario’s lawsuit by denying the allegations. One of the officers went as far as to claim that Nazario was trying to escape from them during the traffic stop because he didn’t instantly pull over. Regarding Nazario’s refusal to stop, he disclosed that he didn’t because he was trying to find a well-lit location. 

Fast forward to Jan. 9, when Nazario’s trial against Gutierrez began. Court records report that the hearing occurred in Richmond, Virginia, and started at 9:15 a.m. Despite the court appearance, no additional information has been released to the general public.