Footage of a Black and Latino U.S. Army officer getting mistreated by police during a traffic stop has been released in conjunction with a lawsuit against the cops — and it’s sparking more outrage against them as well.
Lt. Caron Nazario was driving a brand new SUV last December in Virginia when Officer Daniel Crocker tried to pull him over for not having license plates. Not wanting to stop on a dark road, Nazario slowed his vehicle and drove an additional mile to a well-lit gas station, where he stopped the car.
By then, Crocker had been joined by another officer, Joe Gutierrez, and both officers pulled their guns out on Nazario — who was in uniform at the time — and ordered him to get out of the car.
“I’m honestly afraid to get out,” Nazario told them through his open window, hands in the air.
“You should be,” Gutierrez fired back.
Nazario repeatedly asked what he had done wrong and why he was being stopped, to which he was told he was “being stopped for a traffic violation” and was under arrest for not cooperating.
“For a traffic violation, I do not have to get out of the vehicle,” Nazario calmly responded. “You haven’t even told me why I’m being stopped.”
The officers tried to open the car door and eventually opted to pepper spray Nazario through his window multiple times, which also impacted his dog who was crated in the back seat.
“You made this way more difficult than it had to be if you’d just complied,” Gutierrez told him.
Nazario eventually exited the vehicle and was shoved to the ground and handcuffed.
A temporary cardboard license plate is shown taped to the back of the SUV’s window multiple times in the body cam footage, and Crocker admitted in the police report that he saw it after the vehicle was stopped, only adding to the question of why the police escalated a situation that never should have happened in the first place.
Nazario has filed a lawsuit with claims of unlawful seizure, excessive force, illegal search, common law assault, battery, false imprisonment, and violating his First Amendment rights.
Body cams from both officers as well as cell phone footage taken by Nazario will serve as evidence, and CNN has already reported several discrepancies between the footage and the police report, which presents Nazario as more hostile than the videos show.
He has also alleged that the incident escalated the way that it did in part due to racism, something that’s obviously been a major topic of conversation in the U.S. as of late, and folks online are backing him up.
The officers ultimately let Nazario go after terrorizing him, and after paramedics had to come to the scene to treat him for the pepper spray, but it seems clear that none of this should have ever happened in the first place.