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AG Miyares: Treatment of Army Lt. Caron Nazario "Egregious and Unjust Use of Power" by Windsor Police
Attorney General Miyares Slams Windsor Police for Stop of Black-Hispanic Army Officer
“Excessive use of force and violations of constitutional liberties will not be tolerated in Virginia.”
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares came down hard on the Windsor Police Department for their use of excessive force during a traffic stop of a Black U.S. Army Lieutenant in late 2020. The incident caught on police body cameras went viral and made national news.
The traffic stop of Lt. Caron Nazario by two Windsor Police Officers took place in December 2020 when Attorney General Mark Herring was Attorney General in Virginia. Miyares’ remarks on Sept. 8, are perhaps the most emphatic and critical of Windsor Police by any elected official to date.
In December 2021, the Attorney General’s office under Miyares filed suit against the city of Windsor citing its "pattern of unconstitutional and discriminatory policing.”
“What we all saw in the shocking traffic stop video involving Army Lt. Caron Nazario was an egregious and unjust use of power,” said Attorney General Miyares in a statement on September 8.
On December 5, 2020, Army Lt. Nazario was driving to Petersburg, Va., after a weekend of drills and training.
But as he drove through the darkness of the small town of Windsor, Virginia in Isle of Wight County, a Windsor Police car with two police officers flashed their light and blasted their sirens to pull him over. The reason for the stop was revealed later to be trivial: A license plate infraction.
Lt. Nazario found a well lit gas station where he stopped his SUV. Two Windsor Police Officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, approached Lt. Nazario’s car with their guns drawn — even as Lt. Nazario held his hands raised out of the driver’s side window — as they believed the Army Lieutenant didn’t stop soon enough.
“I’m honestly afraid to get out of the car,” Lt. Nazario, dressed in full Army fatigues told the police. With one officer still pointing his gun at him, a second officer, Gutierrez, sprayed Lt. Nazario with pepper spray, apparently for not exiting his vehicle on command.
Given the lengthy history of police violence and Black men in America, Lt. Nazario’s statement of fear and reluctance to exit his vehicle should have been unsurprising as history confirms his fears are well founded. Many violent and deadly interactions with police and members of the Black community have been recently captured on video.
Violent killings by police, particularly of unarmed Black men, have gone viral around the U.S., and sometimes around the world, in recent years. The advent of smart phone video technology and police worn body cameras have led to a shocking inside view of police violence — often after “routine” traffic stops.
The issue of police brutality and disparate treatment of Black people by police in America is an issue that goes back to the beginnings of organized policing in America. Yet another report demonstrating that Black motorists are stopped in Virginia at a much higher rate than white motorists was recently made public by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Statistics.
The beating and murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson by Alabama State Police kicked off a central moment in the Civil Rights movement, the Selma to Montgomery marches, in 1965.
Over the last decade, violent videos of police killing Black men, as in the cases of Eric Garner in 2014, George Floyd in 2020, Walter Scott in 2016, and Tyre Nichols in 2023 have provided vivid examples of killings by the state no other group in the U.S. can claim to be victim of in such a vividly demonstrated way.
Other infamous cases of unarmed Black men killed by police that were not caught on camera have also captured headlines. They include the murders of 12-year old Tamir Rice in 2014, teenager Michael Brown in Missouri in 2014, Oscar Grant in California in 2009 and Amadou Diallo in 1999.
The killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, touched off the Black Lives Matter movement.
Nazario was never arrested or charged with a crime after Windsor Police stopped him. He sued Windsor and the officers for $1 million but a jury awarded only $3,685.
“I join the hundreds of thousands of good and decent law enforcement officers who stand against the kind of police misconduct we witnessed.
Police are the only government entity that has a monopoly on the use of force in American society,
so it’s important that they be good stewards of that responsibility and strive for excellence in the administration of justice.
Excessive use of force and violations of constitutional liberties will not be tolerated in Virginia,” Attorney General Miyares said in his statement yesterday.
As part of Miyares efforts, Windsor signed a settlement with Virginia that included independent reviews of misconduct allegations against Windsor Police, more training and a commitment to continue seeking Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission accreditation.
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