Jury reaches verdict in Windsor police stop trial
Lt. Nazario was seeking $1 million in the lawsuit
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A jury awarded an Army lieutenant nearly $4,000 on Tuesday in the Windsor traffic stop trial.
The jury’s decision comes after a five-day trial last week.
Lt. Caron Nazario sued officer Daniel Crocker and now-former officer Joe Gutierrez for claims of assault and battery, false imprisonment and illegal search during a traffic stop in 2020.
Nazario was seeking $1 million.
“I would like to say, continue to keep the spotlight on matters like this and thank you for the support,” Nazario said outside the federal court on Tuesday.
The jury says Crocker owes Nazario $1,000 in punitive damages for an illegal search. Gutierrez was ordered to pay $2,685 for the assault claim.
“Obviously, we’re very, very pleased the jury recognized what is and isn’t what is not certain and acceptable conduct with law enforcement. We are disappointed they did not give us a complete plaintiff’s verdict,” Plaintiff Attorney Jonathan Arthur said.
The defense says that, given the case, they’re happy with the jury’s decision.
“We feel the verdict was fair. It was courageous on the part of the jury given the political climate, and we’re very pleased,” Crocker’s Defense Attorney Richard Matthews said.
The jury did not believe the plaintiffs had enough evidence to prove false imprisonment or battery on either Gutierrez’s or Crocker’s behalf.
“Officer Crocker is a police officer. He’s lived in Windsor his entire life, and he’s had to live with this, this lawsuit, saying he did all of these things wrong, but the jury says he’s done everything right besides the gun,” Co-counsel for Crocker said.
Matthews says it’s simple. People should obey the law.
“When a policeman follows behind you and puts his blue lights on, pull over, then cooperate, don’t refuse to get out of the car if asked to get out of the car,” Matthews said.
As for what’s next, Arthur says they will begin post-trial motions and appeal.
In closing arguments last week, plaintiffs said that while the traffic stop may have started lawful, that quickly changed.
The defense said Gutierrez’s conduct was in response to Nazario refusing to comply. The defense said Nazario escalated the situation by refusing to exit his vehicle.
Crocker’s defense argued that he did not act maliciously during the stop. The defense claims had Crocker acted with malice. He would not have gone into the BP gas station to get Nazario water like he requested for his pepper-spray burns.
At the beginning of the trial, Nazario said he feared for his life during the incident. He says he refused to step out of his vehicle because he thought he would get shot like an animal in his uniform.
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