A US Army officer is suing two Virginia police officers after they pointed guns at him, sprayed him with pepper spray and pushed him to the ground during a traffic stop last December for what the officers said believes the number plate is missing on his new SUV.
The lawsuit says Nazario, who was wearing the uniform, was driving a new Chevrolet Tahoe on December 5, 2020, when he pulled over. It says the car is new enough that Nazario doesn’t have a permanent license plate, but he does have a “cardboard temporary license plate” taped to the inside of the rear window.
According to a police report provided as evidence to the lawsuit, Crocker turned on his patrol car’s lights and sirens to initiate a traffic stop at 6:34 p.m. on a black SUV in bodycam video at three separate times.
In his report to police, Crocker admitted to seeing the disc later during the melee. According to the police report, Gutierrez, in his police car heading east, turned around, following Crocker’s car, while turning on the lights and sirens.
The SUV stopped at a BP gas station in Windsor, about 30 miles west of Norfolk. The lawsuit states that Nazario wanted to stop in a safe, well-lit place. When he stopped, he was less than a mile away, according to the lawsuit, and a minute and 40 seconds had passed since Crocker activated the lights and sirens that Officials decided to proceed with a “high-risk traffic stop,” citing the vehicle’s lack of pass, the driver’s slow stop, and the vehicle’s “extremely dark window color.”
Crocker ordered Nazario to raise his hand. Footage shows that Nazario complied after he began recording the incident on his cell phone, but the police report said he initially refused.
Crocker asked how many people were in the car while Nazario asked, “What is it?” The officers again told him to open the door and step out. “I’m not getting out of the car,” Nazario said. “What happened?”
The officers approached the SUV, and Nazario said, “I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m being treated?” Gutierrez replied that he is a veteran and has “learned to obey.”
Gutierrez was heard telling Nazario that he was “ready to ride the lightning, son,” which the lawsuit describes as “a colloquial expression for an execution,” specifically regarding the electric chair .
Body camera footage shows Gutierrez pulling his gun, removing the velcro around what could be his stun gun at the same time he made the statement. In his report, Gutierrez wrote that he switched from handgun to Taser at some point before using pepper spray on Nazario.