WINDSOR, Va. — The attorneys representing Lt. Caron Nazario filed a motion for a new trial on Friday, following a verdict by a jury earlier this week which awarded Nazario less than $4,000 in a lawsuit in which he had sought over $1 million.
In an interview with Richmond station WWBT on Friday, Nazario's co-attorney, Tom Roberts said a new trial is essential to show the justice system works.
“We’ve seen enough unrest, and the public has got to know that the system will work,” Roberts said. “This is significant, and a new trial is in order.”
In the interview, Roberts said he feels the new trial is needed because the jury failed to find that one of the police officers, Joseph Gutierrez, assaulted Nazario without also finding the officer battered and falsely imprisoned him.
“In this circumstance, with the assault that the jury found, it triggers the right for him to have that reasonable resistance to say 'I’m afraid to get out of the car and to stay in his car,'” Roberts said. “Therefore, everything they did after that point constitutes battery and assault.”
Roberts also said a psychiatrist who testified for the police officers did not believe Nazario had any mental health conditions due to the traffic stop.
He claimed the expert added their own criteria to determine PTSD, anxiety, and panic disorders.
“This is false evidence, and the verdict is based on that, and it should be set aside, and a new trial granted because of that,” Roberts said.
The officers stopped Nazario for a missing rear license plate in 2020. In police body camera video, they pulled out their guns, told him to get out of the car even though he was scared, and eventually, Gutierrez pepper sprayed him.
The officers faced four counts: assault, battery, false imprisonment, and illegal search.
For Daniel Crocker, the jury found him only liable on an illegal search, no malice. He was ordered to pay $1,000 in punitive damages and the jury did not find him guilty of false imprisonment, assault, or battery.
In August, a federal judge already ruled that Crocker is liable for an illegal search, violating the 4th amendment when he searched Nazario's car.
The jury found Joe Gutierrez liable for assault and must pay $2,685 in damages, no malice. He was cleared of all false imprisonment, illegal search, and battery charges.
“He was shocked, everybody was shocked, the nation was shocked,” Roberts said.