Virginia’s Attorney General filed a lawsuit last week against the town of Windsor, Virginia after an investigation revealed “discriminatory and unconstitutional policing” practices by the police department.
The Attorney General, Mark Herring (Democrat), said in a statement that “while our investigation was spurred by the egregious treatment against Lieutenant Nazario that we all saw in bodycam footage, we discovered that this incident was indicative of much larger problems within the department.”
The incident AG Herring referred to was the December 2020 police encounter with Lieutenant Caron Nazario, an active-duty Black and Latino military officer.
Police brutality case inspires investigation of entire department
Lt. Nazario was approached by two officers with guns drawn, pepper sprayed, and then handcuffed before he was told why he was being stopped.
A federal lawsuit was filed against the two officers involved after bodycam footage from the officers was released to the public four months after the incident occurred. The lawsuit alleges that the officers acted “consistent with a disgusting nationwide trend of law enforcement officers, who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage in unprofessional, discourteous, racially biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly abuses of authority.”
AG Herring’s investigation revealed “huge disparities in enforcement against African American drivers, and a troubling lack of policies and procedures to prevent discriminatory or unconstitutional policing,” the statement said.
Former officer Joe Gutierrez was fired in April after the bodycam footage was released and public outrage grew.
The state of Virginia is suing the law enforcement agency under a new law that grants the attorney general the right to do so when civil rights have been violated.
Police Chief Rodney Daniel Riddle of the Windsor Police emailed a “statement from the town” and the police department that said the decision to file a lawsuit against Windsor was “clearly political.”
Lt. Nazario was released without charges in the December stop and, according to the lawsuit, officers “threatened Lt. Nazario’s job and his commission in the United States Army if he spoke out knowing the harm criminal charges would cause him.”