Defense calls former, current law enforcement to the stand in Windsor traffic-stop trial

The trial is scheduled to end on Friday
A high-profile trial surrounding a controversial traffic stop continues.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 4:51 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Thursday marked day four in the controversial lawsuit involving a U.S. Army lieutenant and two Windsor police officers.

Lt. Caron Nazario is suing officer Daniel Crocker and now-former officer Joe Gutierrez for claims of assault and battery, false imprisonment and illegal search during that traffic stop.

Thursday morning, the defense began their case by calling Dr. Keyhill Sheorn to the stand.

The Richmond-based psychiatrist with 33 years of experience was court-ordered to examine Nazario one time.

Sheorn, who testified as an expert in PTSD, says in her findings, Nazario did not suffer from generalized anxiety, PTSD, or panic disorders. Sheorn said Nazario also did not suffer from a psychiatric disorder.

The defense then called a former Arizona police officer to the stand.

Brandon Tatum, who served with the Tucson Police Department for six and a half years, testified as an expert in police procedures and traffic stops.

Video of the 2020 traffic stop shows officers pointing guns at Nazario, who was in uniform.

He held his hands in the air outside the driver’s side window and continually asked why he was being stopped, before he was pulled out of that vehicle, pepper sprayed and handcuffed, but never arrested.

Without commenting specifically on this case, Tatum says in a hypothetical situation, a reasonable officer would have conducted a felony stop if a driver did not have a visible license plate, heavily tinted windows, and was driving erratically. Tatum stated that a felony traffic stop is also the same as a high-risk traffic stop.

Tatum also stated that a reasonable officer would use the appropriate amount of force to get a driver refusing to comply out of their vehicle, whether it’s against the driver’s own will.

During cross-examination, the plaintiffs did recognize that Tatum has no criminal justice degree nor any ties to the state of Virginia. His opinions are based solely on his own personal experiences.

The defense also called West Utah’s chief of police to the stand to testify about police procedures.

Chief Ken Wallentine discussed the range of force that officers use to get a person to comply.

In a hypothetical situation, Wallentine says officers may use pepper spray, K9s or can grab a person through a hold technique, which would physically remove them from a vehicle if they refused to follow orders.

Wallentine says each situation has its own circumstances.

Nazario’s attorney, Jonathan Arthur, then called Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle to the stand to identify their department’s traffic stop policy.

After lunch, Judge Roderick Young dismissed the jury for the day.

He and counsel discussed and revised jury instructions for the remainder of Thursday.

The trial is scheduled to end on Friday. One more witness will be called to the stand starting at 9 a.m.

Both the plaintiffs and defendants will have closing arguments. The jury will then deliberate on a verdict.