By The Vanguard Staff
RICHMOND, VA – A Black and Latino Army lieutenant pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop filed a civil rights lawsuit against the town of Windsor over the actions of its police—and the town last week agreed to settle the case after a trial and attorney general investigation.
The city of Windsor, 70 miles southeast of Richmond, said, as part of the settlement, it will accept independent reviews of misconduct allegations against its police force and to provide more officer training as part of a settlement agreement signed Thursday.
In exchange, the state Attorney General’s Office will drop its argument that Windsor police broke a new law by depriving Caron Nazario of his rights.
AP also wrote, “Windsor agreed to keep working toward accreditation by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission. Police also will hold officer training exercises twice a year and submit to the Isle of Wight Commonwealth’s Attorney reviewing any allegations of excessive force or misconduct against its officers.”
The Attorney General began investigating the town after a December 2020 traffic stop involving two Windsor Police Department officers and Nazario.
The AP wrote the “traffic stop, captured on video, showed officers drawing their guns, pointing them at Nazario, who was in uniform, and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution before pepper-spraying him and knocking him to the ground. He was not arrested.
The Attorney General’s Office said its investigation found that, while about 22 percent of Windsor’s population is Black, they accounted for about 42 percent of the department’s traffic stops between July 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, noting Windsor police searched more vehicles driven by Black motorists than by white drivers, said AP.
Over the past seven years, Windsor officers used force 20 times in 23,000 encounters. Six of those encounters involved African Americans, one of which led to a valid complaint, according to the town.
Then Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring said his agency found it was part of larger problem with the department, and Republican AG Jason Miyares, who defeated Herring in a subsequent election, signed the settlement agreement with the town of about 3,000, reported the AP.
“What we all saw in the shocking traffic stop video involving Army Lt. Caron Nazario was an egregious and unjust use of power,” Miyares said in a statement. “I join the hundreds of thousands of good and decent law enforcement officers who stand against the kind of police misconduct we witnessed.”
Windsor officials, added AP, said the town signed the agreement to “avoid further unfair and unjustified financial impositions placed upon the citizens of Windsor by the Office of the Attorney General.”
“The Town of Windsor has worked diligently within its police force to enhance training, improve policies and procedures, and ensure the public that its law enforcement operates without prejudice and within the law,” the town said in a statement.