Update: One of the two officers involved in the incident has since been fired, according to The Associated Press.
A U.S. Army lieutenant has filed a lawsuit against two Windsor, Virginia, police officers over a December traffic stop gone awry that later became a viral video.
A seemingly calm but confused Caron Nazario is slowly moving to comply with conflicting orders from the two officers, one shouting to keep his hands out the window while the other shouts for him to exit the vehicle. He is then pepper-sprayed, put on the ground, and handcuffed, all while still in his Army uniform. (RELATED: Teenager Tries To Carjack An Elderly Man At Gunpoint, Gets Hit With A Major Surprise)
The traffic stop was initiated by officer Daniel Crocker, when he radioed that he was attempting to pull over a vehicle with tinted windows and no rear license plate. Nazario, who was on the way home from his duty station, didn’t immediately pullover, and instead drove until he reached a gas station, later telling the officers he wanted to wait until reaching a well-lit area, according to the lawsuit.
Crocker later said in a report on the incident that he considered it a “high risk traffic stop,” and that the driver was “eluding police,” despite Nazario saying he remained within the speed limit until stopping, according to NBC News. It was later revealed that Nazario’s temporary license plate was posted in his rear window. Officer Joe Gutierrez, driving in the opposite direction as Crocker was attempting to pull Nazario over, turned around and joined in on the stop.
In the video, the two police officers, guns drawn, yell at Nazario to open the door slowly and exit the vehicle. Nazario holds his arms out the driver side window while the officers shout instructions. Nazario shouts inaudibly in response to the officers before they move closer to his vehicle.
As the officers approached, still yelling at him to exit the vehicle and keep his hand outside the window, Nazario asks them what was going on. The officers again yell at him to exit, and Nazario can be heard saying, “I serve this country and this is how I’m treated?”
“Well guess what, I’m a veteran too, and I don’t not obey,” one of the officers said in response, before continuing to give commands for Nazario to exit.
Nazario continued to ask what was going on, before the same officer responded, “What’s going on is your fixing to ride the lightning, son.”
The officers then moved up to Nazario’s door, still yelling. Nazario, with hands still outside the window said he was afraid to get out of the car. “You should be,” one of the officers responded. Eventually, the officers attempted to remove Nazario by force, before pepper-spraying him after he prevented them from opening the door and pulling him out.
Nazario eventually agreed to exit the vehicle after experiencing the effects of the pepper spray. The officers then wrestled him to the ground and placed handcuffs on him.
Jonathan Arthur, Nazario’s attorney, filed the lawsuit in federal court because he claimed Nazario’s constitutional rights were violated.
The lawsuit argues the officers didn’t have probable cause to charge Nazario with any crimes and that the stop, which the officers claimed was for a traffic violation, was illegal. It also claims that officers threatened to ruin his military career by telling him that if he “would chill and let this go” that they would release him and prevent him from having to go to court and notify his commanding Army officers, according to The Virginian-Pilot.