Winston Salem, NC — Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario was on his way home from a long day of work at his duty station in December 2020 when he was targeted by some very bad apples for revenue collection. This would be no simple extortion, however, as the cops would hold the U.S. Army soldier gunpoint, pepper spray him, and assault this innocent man for no reason.
Now, nearly two years after he was attacked and assaulted, Nazario is finding out that the main culprit behind his assault, Joe Gutierrez, will face no charges.
Although I find the video very disturbing and frankly unsettling, Gutierrez's use of force to remove Nazario did not violate state law as he had given multiple commands for Nazario to exit the vehicle,” special prosecutor Anton Bell said in his report.
“The problematic issue, however, were Gutierrez's statements throughout the entire ordeal, which would lead a reasonable person to wonder whether underlying bias was at the root of how and why Nazario was treated in like manner,” Bell wrote, as he cleared Gutierrez of wrong doing.
On that night back in December 2020, Windsor police officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez falsely accused Nazario of having no license plate and then targeted him for a traffic stop. When Crocker turned on his lights to pull Nazario over, Nazario drove to a well lit area and then stopped.
Because the lieutenant in the the U.S. Army Medical Corps didn't immediately stop on the dark roadside and instead drove a short way to the well-lit gas station — which is his right — police accused him of "eluding." However, as they had no reason for which to pull him over, there was nothing to elude.
Crocker radioed for Gutierrez to join him and these two bad cops proceeded to violate the rights of Nazario.
Nazario, who was in his full uniform, asked the officers who have their guns pointed at his head, “I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m treated?”
The officers then begin yelling conflicting orders at Nazario which could have led to the use of deadly force.
“I’m honestly afraid to get out,” Nazario tells the cops as they yell the conflicting orders.
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One of the officers responded, “Yeah, you should be!” and then showed him why he should be afraid with a dose of chemical weapon to Nazario's face.
Nazario was then pulled from the vehicle as the officers began striking him. He's forced to the ground, completely humiliated and handcuffed and he hadn't broken a single law.
Police then tell him that they pulled him over for driving without a license plate. Nazario had just purchased the vehicle and the temporary plate put there by the dealer was clearly visible in the back window of Nazario's SUV.
At the end of the footage, after police beat down Nazario, made references to executing him (ride the lighting), and pepper sprayed him without reason, the officers tell Nazario that if he complains about the way they treated him, they will bring charges against him.
"This is racism. It’s about the domination and humiliation of a Black man because he asked questions and 'didn’t comply,'" political figure and activist Julian Castro said.
Nazario has since filed a lawsuit against the department for the clear violation of rights captured on the police body camera footage below.
"Graduated from Virginia State University. He was commissioned out of their ROTC program. He's an officer in the United States armed forces," Nazario's attorney Jonathan Arthur said of his client to The Associated Press (AP). "These guys decide to do this to him."
"He's a sworn member of the United States Army. He swears an oath to support to defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic—and the way these officers behaved, this implicates the oath that he takes," Arthur added.
When asked about how Nazario is following the incident, Arthur said at the time that "He's definitely not doing too well." Now, after the officer who threatened to kill him was cleared, he certainly won't be doing any better.