ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation regarding a traffic stop incident involving two Town of Windsor police officers and a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Gov. Northam described the incident as “disturbing” and that it angered him.
“Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure that Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable,” said Northam.
Gov. Northam ended his statement with an invitation for U.S. Army medic Lieutenant Caron Nazario to meet and talk with the governor regarding the incident.
“We must all continue the larger dialogue about reform in our country,” said Northam.
The stop happened on a night in December after one of the two officers involved said 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario’s SUV had tinted windows and didn’t have a rear license plate. It resulted in the officers drawing their guns, pointing them at him and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution.
Body camera footage showed Nazario had his hands held in the air outside the driver’s side window as he told the armed officers, “I’m honestly afraid to get out.” One of the officers told Nazario, “Yeah, you should be!”
Nazario is now asking for at least $1 million in damages and for the court to rule that the two officers violated his rights, including rights under the Fourth Amendment.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Norfolk Federal Court April 2, said the incident occurred around 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5.
The lawsuit claims that one of the officers involved said the charges could impact Nazario’s career with the Army. Jonathan Arthur, Nazario’s Richmond-based attorney who believes his client is a victim of police brutality, said this was threatening retaliation if Nazario complained about the incident.
WAVY News 10’s Jon Dowding will have the latest updates later tonight at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. only on WAVY-TV 10.
Several local officials and organizations have voiced their concerns and anger regarding the incident.
On Saturday, the Isle of Wight Branch of the NAACP called the body camera footage “very concerning” stating that the incident will “not go unaddressed.”
“We are done dying. We will not stand silently while another African American’s civil rights are violated.”
Members of the branch say they are calling for a meeting with the Windsor Chief of Police and requesting the termination of Officer Daniel Crocker who initiated the traffic stop, and Officer Joe Gutierrez, the second officer who responded to the incident.
In a separate statement, members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus are calling for the officers to “be investigated immediately and held accountable for their atrocious actions.”
“Not even a military uniform and brave service to this country can shield Black and Brown Virginians from racist police harassment and brutality,” Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said.
Virginia Congressman Bobby Scott has also called for a Federal investigation regarding the incident.
Attorney General Mark Herring called the incident “unacceptable” and called for the Windsor Police to be “fully transparent” regarding the issue.
In a statement released Sunday, Delegate Jay Jones from Norfolk reflected on the incident as another instance heinous police brutality against a Black man.
“This video highlights a sad reality for far too many of us in communities across our Commonwealth. That reality must be brought to an end, ” said Jones.
This is breaking news and will be updated.
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