On The Sunday Show, Jonathan Capehart, Paul Butler, Jill Wine-Banks, and John Burris discussed the absolutely horrific police stop by Virginia police of a young Black and Latino Army lieutenant. In the video, Lt. Caron Nazario was stopped by two Virginia police officers. He pulled up to a well-lit gas station, and the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, responded in a violent and completely unhinged way. They screamed, threatened, made lethal threats, mentioning the electric chair, pointing their guns, physically assaulting him, and pepper spraying him.
What was his alleged offense? He had a temporary license plate in the window of his new SUV. (Not an offense, by the way.)
The December 2020 incident was caught on body cameras from Gutierrez and Crocker, as well as Nazario's phone, and the gas station camera. Very similar to the George Floyd murder in its being fully video recorded, but thank god Lt. Nazario was able to survive this potential murder by overzealous, racist police officers.
As you can see in the video, Nazario was in his Army uniform and was driving a new Chevrolet Tahoe. He did not have permanent license plates, so the temp plate was taped inside the rear window, totally visible. Yet, law enforcement decided today was the day to perform a random stop of a Black man, and initiated a stop around 6:24pm. They reported it as a "black SUV with dark tinted windows and no license plate." Yet, the license plate is visible in all bodycam videos. Hmmm. The SUV was not reported to be speeding. So, why did the officers report it as a "high risk traffic stop?" I guess because the driver was Black and in a dark tinted window SUV?
Capehart played a portion of the video for his panel, and then threw it to them for discussion.
WINE-BANKS: It was horrifying. It is a constant reminder of the danger of Driving While Black, of Walking While Black, of Jogging While Black. We have to do something to stop this. No one who looks like me would have been subjected to that. He drove for about one mile to get to a lighted area, which is a completely justifiable thing. He put his own camera on his dashboard and recorded what was happening, as did obviously the body cams, and it looks to me like there must have been a cam in the gas station from the angle.
There's just nothing to be said about the appropriateness of what happened. The reference to "the lightning" has to do with the electric chair. And that's a pretty serious threat. And then they threatened him with ruining his Army career. This was a man in uniform who had done nothing, and the license plate is visible in the video that you see. So they had no reason to even pull him over. And then to get out and pull a gun? It's unspeakable. It is just horrible. And at a time when we're going through the George Floyd murder trial of Derek Chauvin, nothing could be more compelling to say we have to do something about policing in America.
CAPEHART: Mr. Burris, the other thing that is so terrifying to me -- just give me a moment here, because I avoided watching any of that video for days now because that's my biggest fear. And what happened to that Army officer, they tell him to get out of the car, but they also tell him to put his hands out the window, but they also -- they give him conflicting information and that's why I said, thank God he went to a lighted spot because imagine if they were on a darkened part of the road, what would have happened to him if he had complied. And I'm sick and tired of hearing people, particularly White people, well, if only they complied. If you do what they say you'll be fine. And we see right there, no, not even an Army uniform can protect you from law enforcement. Mr. Burris.
BURRIS: No question about it. This is not an atypical situation, I can guarantee you. This happened here, but it happens all throughout the United States. In many cases like this, I can tell you that a minor case like this could have a very tragic incident. This young man could have been shot and killed if he had made the wrong move at the point in time. Pulling their guns out was totally, totally inappropriate because once you pull your guns out, you're leaving yourself very few options and that option, if the person says something you don't like or does some move you don't like, the first thing you do is shoot and kill them.
CAPEHART: Paul, I'm going to give you the last word quickly. It wasn't lost on me we also saw in the Derek Chauvin trial guns were pulled on George Floyd the moment they got to his car window. Paul, last word to you.
BUTLER: These two officers who engaged in this racial profiling and excessive force, every day that they remain in the streets is a dangerous day for people of color in Virginia. There's got to be an independent investigation. This police department has not been transparent or accountable. It cannot be trusted to police itself.
CNN is reporting that Lt. Nazario is suing the 2 officers and I hope he wins a BIG settlement. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages and claims that the police officers violated his rights under the First and Fourth Amendments. Additionally, the suit claims "claims unlawful seizure, excessive force, illegal search, violating his First Amendment right to free speech, and common law assault, battery and false imprisonment."