The officers alleged they pulled over Nazario because they believed he did not have a license plate on the rear of his car. But when Nazario pulled into a well-lit gas station, the officers still escalated the encounter despite now seeing there was a license plate on the back of his new vehicle.
“Yeah, you should be!” yelled one of the officers, before pepper-spraying, knocking down and handcuffing the lieutenant. Gutierrez also told Nazario that he’s “fixin’ to ride the lightning,” a slang term that suggested he was facing execution by electrocution. Gutierrez can be heard threatening to use a Taser on Nazario in bodycam footage later.
Gutierrez said in an incident report that he “made the decision to release him without charges” because he “did not want to see his career ruined over one erroneous decision.” But according to Nazario, the officers told him they’d charge him with crimes that would destroy his military career if he spoke out about the incident.
“These cameras captured footage of behavior 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,” the lawsuit stated.
“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,” Northam said in his statement.
This content was originally published here.