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Army Officer Awarded $3,685 In Police Brutality Case

Second Lt. Caron Nazario was seeking $1 million in damages.

Second Lt. Caron Nazario, a Black high-ranking officer of the U.S. Army, was awarded less than $4,000 in his million-dollar lawsuit against two Virginia police officers.

According to The Washington Post, a jury awarded Nazario $3,685 in the lawsuit against Windsor, Virginia, police officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez. The officers faced four counts, which included assault, battery, false imprisonment, and illegal search. Gutierrez was ordered to pay $2,685 in damages, no malice, under liability for assault and was cleared of all other charges. Crocker was liable for an illegal search, no malice, ordered to pay $1,000 in damages, and cleared of all other charges.

Anne Lahren, an attorney for Crocker, said in a statement, “Having now heard all of the evidence and learning the full picture of this case, we believe the jury reached the correct decision. In the present climate, this took a lot of courage and we thank the jury for their service.”

Tom Roberts, Nazario’s lawyer, called the verdict a "sad day" and added, "It is open season on citizens in Virginia and across the county. Citizens will not rest assured that scenes like this are not repeated with impunity.

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The incident occurred in December 2020 and was recorded both in body camera footage and on Nazario's cellphone. The video went viral in April 2021. A member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, who is based in Virginia, Nazario was in uniform when he was pulled over on his way home in his Chevy Tahoe from his duty station.

Officer Crocker made a radio call, claiming he was attempting to stop a vehicle without a rear license plate and that the driver was "eluding police," according to a report he filed after the incident. Nazario, however, had a temporary license plate taped to the inside of his rear window and it was reportedly visible by the time the officers reached the car, according to his lawsuit. The vehicle was new to him and he hadn't yet been issued permanent plates.

When cops ordered him out of the car, he said he was afraid to get out of the car. The officer replied, “Yeah, you should be.” Body camera footage showed the officers pepper-spraying, striking him in the knees, handcuffing him, and threatening to bring charges against him if he complained about their conduct, according to the footage and the lawsuit.

Joe Gutierrez was fired in April 2021.

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