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Lawsuit for controversial Windsor traffic stop one step closer to jury trial

Lawyers submitted pretrial memos to court, ahead of a highly-anticipated jury trial in January.

ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. — It has been nearly two years ago, to the day, a duo of Windsor police officers pulled over Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario for a missing rear license plate. It would eventually turn into a controversial traffic stop. 

Since then, Nazario brought forward a federal lawsuit against the two officers. It will go to a jury trial on January 9. Before then, attorneys filed pretrial brief documents in court on November 30, essentially cementing the plaintiff and defendants' positions surrounding the case.

In the body-camera footage 13News Now showed first, then-police officer Joe Gutierrez and Officer Daniel Crocker drew their guns during the 2020 Windsor traffic stop. 

Gutierrez would eventually pepper spray Nazario, as well. 

The U.S. Army officer is suing on claims of assault and battery, false imprisonment and illegal search for bystander. 

Nazario's attorney, Jonathan Arthur, told 13News Now the following in an interview on October 11: "Let the community speak as to what standards it wants to hold its law enforcement to. I am happy to finally get this trial in from of a jury right? That is what we have been pushing for."

In a document obtained by 13News Now and filed on November 30, Arthur wrote in part: "...the defendants' conduct was not only objectively unreasonable but that they were acting with malice."

Attorneys for Gutierrez partly said in their memo: "...the evidence will show that in light of Mr. Nazario's refusal to comply with repeated lawful orders, Mr. Gutierrez used reasonable force to control the situation."

In the memo for Crocker, his counsel echoes that sentiment.

One of his attorneys sent 13News Now the following statement via email: 

“We believe Officer Crocker’s position is sufficiently stated in his pretrial brief and we have no further statement at this time.”

Touching on what could be expected in court, Crocker's counsel wrote in part about an "attempt to introduce testimony and evidence related to racial demographics in order to mislead the jury into believe that the incident was racially motivated.”

Attorneys and the judge on this case will meet for a final pretrial conference on December 14. The jury trial on January 9 is expected to last one week in Richmond.

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