The video of U.S. Army Medical Corps Lieutenant, Caron Nazario, being pepper-sprayed by police in Windsor, Virginia, went viral this week after the footage from December 2020 was finally released. Nazario survived the horrific encounter but the incident was especially traumatizing considering he had a relationship with Eric Garner, the New York man who was choked to death by NYPD officers in 2014.
According to The Washington Post, Raquel Nazario, Caron’s wife, was Eric Garner’s cousin. Garner was “like an uncle” to Nazario, the outlet reports.
Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, told The Washington Post, who knew Nazario when he was a kid in Brooklyn, that she was thankful he survived the incident, “I really thank God that it ended up the way it did because if he had stopped in that dark place, I’m sure they would have taken his life. I’m so glad he drove and he got to that gas station.”
Raquel told The Washington Post opened up about her husband’s demeanor during the terrifying traffic stop, “That demeanor is who he is all the time. That’s just who he is.”
On December 5, Nazario, 27, was in uniform when he was pulled over on his way home in his Chevy Tahoe from his duty station.
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.
However, Nazario 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 the lawsuit. The vehicle was new to him and he hadn’t yet been issued with permanent plates, the report says.
When cops ordered him out of the car, he said he was afraid The officer replied, “Yeah, you should be.”
Body camera footage shows the officers pepper-spraying, striking him in the knees and handcuffing him. In the lawsuit, Nazario claims that Windsor police racially profiled him, violated his constitutional rights and threatened to kill him, according to Newsweek.
Police released a statement on Sunday (April 11), acknowledging the “unfortunate events that transpired.”
The department also announced the firing of officer Joe Gutierrez. After an internal investigation, the town said Guttierrez did not follow department policy. According to CBS News, they did not provide any further information on the second officer, Daniel Crocker, involved in the incident, but did say the department is requiring additional training.