Brooklyn-born Lt. Nazario during his graduation (303566)
Credit: Till Infinity Photography

White male and female police officers killing unarmed Black people is a triggering front page daily narrative.

The world is watching the dire state of law enforcement and the Black community, witnessing the daily traumatizing, anger-engaging, triggering, race-war bating videos of brutal abuse and misconduct.

The current Derek Chauvin murder trial due to his 2020 murder of George Floyd, and Kim Porter’s shooting of Duante Wright, simply raises the specter of (the then) white cop Amber Guyger who shot Botham Jean in his own apartment on Sept. 6, 2018.

Mere miles from the George Floyd murder trial, on Wednesday April 14, 2021, Brooklyn Center Police Department officer Kim Porter was charged with manslaughter for shooting Duante Wright, 20, on-camera on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The same week came the video of the pepper spraying of a uniformed lieutenant Caron Nazario, by an on-duty cop.

“Brooklyn, it’s time to stand up! Action is needed!” demanded Rev. Conrad Bennette Tillard, senior minister at Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church. “Those so-called law enforcement officers, who displayed disregard for the law and disrespect of a uniformed member of the armed forces, must be challenged on all fronts. All of Bedford Stuyvesant and indeed all of Brooklyn must now stand up to defend the honor of our Favorite Son.”

Windsor Police Department Officer Joe Gutierrez was fired this weekend after video of the pepper-spraying incident with U.S. Army Second Lt. Caron Nazario during a traffic stop surfaced.

Outrage was compounded by the ongoing Chauvin case, and the on-camera killing of Wright.

Bed Stuy native Nazario, who’s Latino and African American, was pulled over by VSP Officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker while driving his Chevrolet Tahoe in the town of Windsor on U.S. 460. Nazario drove an extra mile to a well-lit gas station once he realized the state troopers wanted to pull him over. Nazario was still dressed in his Army fatigues. After he was pulled over, he put his dashboard the dashboard turning the video on to record whatever happened.

During the phone video recording, Nazario said “What’s going on?”

Gutierrez responded, “What’s going on is you’re fixin’ to ride the lightning son,” which is slang for execution via the electric chair.

“I’m honestly afraid to get out,” said Nazario.

Gutierrez responded “Yeah, you should be!”

Officers eventually drew their guns on Nazario before they decided to pepper-spray him, throw him to the ground, handcuff him and then interrogate him.

The Chevrolet Tahoe, which is brand new, had paper license tags. Officers claimed that the SUV had no tags and thus treated it as a “high risk traffic stop.”

Nazario is a second lieutenant in the United States Army, he serves as a medic, and is in the Honor guard for fallen heroes.

The incident took place on Dec. 20, 2020, when Nazario was coming back from drill weekend, where officers conduct monthly training.

Nazario filed a lawsuit against both officers earlier this month claiming a violation of his constitutional rights citing that he wasn’t told why he was pulled over. His lawyer, Johnathan Arthur said Crocker should be fired as well. “Though Nazario was shocked at the ferociousness of these defendants and the very real possibility that the defendants may murder him because he could not comply with their inconsistent demands, Lt. Nazario remained calm, kept his hands outside the window, and continued to calmly ask the defendants why they pulled him over, and to explain what was going on,” stated the filing. “Neither of the defendants were willing or able to articulate why they had initiated the traffic stop.”

National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said, “Over the last few days the nation once again watched a young Black man, pulled over by police in what appears to be a pretextual stop, shot to death by officers incapable of or unwilling to de-escalate the encounter.

“We watched officers cruelly taunt and needlessly assault a Black Army Medical Corps lieutenant with pepper-spray after another apparently pretextual traffic stop. 

“Our hearts are with the family of Daunte Wright, taken at just 20 years old, by an officer so poorly-trained and so eager to use excessive force that she allegedly mistook a gun for a taser.

“Our sympathy and support goes out to Lt. Caron Nazario who was pelted with death threats and conflicting demands before his unwarranted and unprovoked assault.

“These tragic incidents have occurred or come to light even as the trial of Derek Chauvin has swept aside the illusion of justification for the use of force in cases like these. Witness after witness has testified that George Floyd posed no threat to the officers, and that Derek Chauvin continued using deadly force long after even the possibility of a threat had passed. Video of Daunte Wright’s fatal shooting and Lt. Nazario’s vicious assault make it clear that neither of them posed a threat to the officers who attacked them.

“Also swept aside is any excuse for the Senate’s delay in passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Each day that goes by without accountability for police misconduct is a black mark against a nation shamefully willing to tolerate the unjustified killing and assault of Black and Brown men and women.”

Born and raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York’s Nazario, 27, is a graduate of George Westinghouse High School in Brooklyn, where he was the captain of the baseball and soccer teams. The former volunteer intern with Community Board Three in Bed Stuy, matriculated to Virginia state University in Petersburg, Va. He was elected freshman class president, inducted into the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated and graduated with honors.

“Brooklyn, it’s time to stand up! Action is needed!” demanded Rev. Conrad Bennette Tillard, senior minister at Flatbush–Tompkins Congregational Church. “On Saturday morning, my son Conrad Jr. sent a text to me asking if I had seen what happened Caron, I replied I had not, but it turns out Caron had sent the video to me via Messenger…and I was furious, tears welled up in my eyes.

“You see, 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario is my next-door neighbor. I watched him grow from a boy to a man, one that all the folks on his All-American block in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn are enormously proud of. A graduate of NYC public schools, Virginia State University, and a member of the United States Army he is the quintessential All-American boy, that has now grown into a man of substance and character, a true solid citizen. I also want to testify on a personal level, he is literally one of the kindest, most respectful young men that I know.” Still upset the former senior minister at Nazarene Congregational Church continued, “My children love him and his family and over the years we have been there for each other. His committed mother, and grandmother (his father as well) have produced one of Brooklyn’s finest, a true King from Kings County and a young man that Bedford Stuyvesant must now stand up for. The way he was intimidated, stalked, maced, abused and traumatized by those so-called law enforcement officers, who displayed complete contempt for a citizen, disregard for the law and disrespect of a uniformed member of the armed forces, must be challenged on all fronts. All of Bedford Stuyvesant and indeed all of Brooklyn must now stand up to defend the honor of our Favorite Son.”

On Sunday the Virginia NAACP released a statement stating that the group has had enough of these cases of police misconduct.

“Today, the Virginia NAACP announced a renewed commitment to finally ending qualified immunity for law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” read the statement. “After investigating multiple officer-involved incidents over the past five months, the Virginia NAACP has had enough and is demanding real change.”

Four days before the news of the shooting the Virginia NAACP met with Virginia State Attorney General Mark Herring to “craft policy solutions” that would address the response to police-involved shooting deaths.

“While we applaud the immediate reactions of Virginia’s government officials, we believe that now is the time for Gov. Ralph Northam to call a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to pass House Bill 2045 sponsored by Delegate Jeff Bourne to finally end qualified immunity,” said Virginia NAACP Executive Director Da’Quan Marcell Love. “The Virginia NAACP strongly believes that the Commonwealth must end qualified immunity NOW. Black Virginians can’t wait until next January.”

“That’s why we’re demanding Gov. Ralph Northam call a special session of the Virginia General Assembly for the sole purpose of ending qualified immunity and passing HB 2045 which is Delegate Jeff Bourne’s bill,” Love said.

Under qualified immunity, state and local officers are protected from individual liability unless the person violated a clearly established constitutional right.

Virginia State Gov. Ralph denounced the shooting while Herring announced an investigation into the incident.

“The incident in Windsor is disturbing and angered me––and I am directing the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation,” said Northam. “Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure that the Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable.”

Northam also invited Lt. Nazario to meet with him and “continue the large dialogue.”

Some of that “dialogue” took place in another incident involving the VSP. Xzavier Hill, 18, was shot and killed by VSP troopers on I-64 in Goochland Country the morning of Jan. 9 after being pulled over for speeding. Police said that when they approached Hill, he flashed a gun and they responded in kind.

LaToya Benton, Hill’s mother, said that she viewed the dashcam footage and drew a different conclusion. She admitted that her son was speeding, but he probably wanted to drive to a well-lit location because he was scared.

“I’m so sick of these cops, when they mess up saying, ‘Oh he had a gun.’ No, you killed my son and you need to go to jail. Release their names,” said Benton during a news conference in January.

In March, a grand jury said the shooting was justified.

VSP officers do not wear body cameras.