Army officer sues Virginia police over violent traffic stop

Joanna Estrada
April 11, 2021

In the April 2 filing with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nazario alleges the officers violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop last December. But according to the lawsuit documents, the SUV had temporary license plate taped to the rear window, which the officers would have been able to see before they even got to Nazario's vehicle. During the stop, which was captured on police body cameras and Nazario's cell phone, Nazario told police that he was afraid to get out of the vehicle.

Bodycam footage shows two officers holding the lieutenant at gunpoint and pepper-spraying him.

After the altercation, the suit says that officer Gutierrez said he understood why Nazario looked for a lighted place to pull over, and said: "I get it, the media spewing race relations between law enforcement and minorities".

When two Windsor police officers, guns drawn, ordered him to get out, he said, "I'm honestly afraid to get out". He was pulled over, pepper sprayed, and arrested without explanation.

Arthur said Nazario explained at the time that he wasn't trying to elude the officer, but was trying to stop in a well-lighted area "for officer safety and out of respect for the officers".

Because of his tinted windows, apparent missing license, and the fact that he drove for a bit before stopping, the officers allegedly treated the stop as a "felony traffic stop". Asked about Nazario's condition after the incident, Arthur told AP: "He's definitely not doing too well". Gutierrez then sprayed Nazario with pepper spray, which Nazario called "f--ed up", according to the footage.

"Yeah dude, you should be", one officer responds. The officers then attempted to pull Nazario out of the vehicle while he continued to keep his hands in the air.

"This is a colloquial expression for an execution, originating from glib reference to execution by the electric chair", the lawsuit states.

"This is f*cked up; this is f*cked up", Nazario, who, according toVice, also filmed a video of the incident via a cellphone placed on his dashboard, repeats.

Nazario reportedly alleged that the officers told him they'd hit him with charges of obstruction of justice, eluding police, and assault on a cop if he complained about the incident. On Saturday, the state of Maryland became the first state to repeal its Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, and the Oregon Legislature is now considering 10 police reform bills.

"These cameras captured footage of behavior consistent with a disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers, who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage in unprofessional, discourteous, racially biased, risky and sometimes deadly abuses of authority." the lawsuit says.

The officers shouted conflicting orders at Nazario, telling him to put his hands out the window while also telling him to open the door and get out, the lawsuit says.

Representatives for the Windsor Police Department and Saunders did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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