An Army lieutenant who was brutalized by Virginia police in 2020 received a little over $3,000 in a settlement.
On Tuesday, Caron Nazario was awarded $3,685 in a federal lawsuit, which is pennies compared to the trauma he endured on that fateful night. The ordeal unfolded in December 2020 while Nazario was driving his newly purchased Chevy Tahoe in Windsor. Officers Joseph Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker pulled over Nazario, claiming they were suspicious because the truck had no visible license plate with an “extremely dark” window tint. The tag was displayed in the rear window but had not been placed on the back of the truck yet.
Crocker proceeded to search the vehicle, despite Nazario refusing. Body cam footage showed Gutierrez pepper spraying Nazario when he did not get out of the truck right away, despite him expressing that he feared for his safety. Gutierrez told the lieutenant, who is Black and Latino, that he should be afraid.
In April 2021, Nazario sued both officers for racial profiling and assault. He sought $1 million in damages. This week, a jury awarded him just $1,000 in punitive damages for the illegal search conducted by Crocker. They then granted him another $2,685 compensation for the pepper spray assault. While they agreed that Crocker violated Nazario’s Fourth Amendment right to refuse a search, the jury believed he did it without malice. Therefore, they declined to award him any compensation for that offense.
Nazario’s attorney, Tom Roberts, said the verdict was a “sad day” and failed to protect citizens against racist officers. The Windsor Police Department discharged Gutierrez in 2021 for violating departmental rules during the incident.