A jury awarded $3,685 to a Black US Army lieutenant who filed a $1 million police brutality lawsuit against two Virginia police officers who pepper-sprayed and struck him during a traffic stop in 2020.
As previously reported, the incident occurred while 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario was driving home from work in his new Chevy Tahoe. Officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, according to Nazario, pointed their guns at him before pepper spraying and striking him after he was pulled over.
According to ABC News, Nazario filed a lawsuit against the officers, alleging assault, battery, false imprisonment, and illegal search. However, after being found liable for assault, the jury ordered Gutierrez to pay $2,685 in damages. The other charges were dropped against him. Crocker, on the other hand, was found liable for illegally searching Nazario’s vehicle and was ordered to pay $1,000 in damages. He was also found not guilty of the other charges.
Responding to the verdicts, Tom Roberts, who is Nazario’s lawyer, said it was a “sad day”, adding that the decision by the court does not give notification to other police officers that “this conduct is unacceptable.”
“It is open season on citizens in Virginia and across the county,” a statement from Roberts said. “Citizens will not rest assured that scenes like this are not repeated with impunity.”
According to the lawsuit, the December 2020 incident occurred after the Black United States Army lieutenant was flagged down for allegedly driving with a dark window tint and no rear license plate, as Vice reported. According to the lawsuit, Nazario was using temporary tags because he had only recently purchased the SUV and had yet to obtain a permanent one. Nazario also displayed the temporary plate inside the SUV’s rear windscreen. The traffic stop was also captured on police body camera footage, which allegedly showed the tags.