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Windsor police officers who pulled over Army lieutenant ordered to pay less than $4,000

Army Lt. Caron Nazario wanted $1 million in the federal lawsuit against the officers, but the damages awarded by the jury are much less.

RICHMOND, Va. — After five full days of jury deliberation, a verdict was reached on Tuesday in the $1 million lawsuit filed by Army Lt. Caron Nazario, who is suing two Windsor police officers for a controversial December 2020 traffic stop.

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.

Lawyers gave 13News Now their opinions on the verdict as they exited the courthouse.

"I'm disappointed, very disappointed," said Tom Roberts, Nazario's lawyer.

"It was fair, it was courageous on part of the political climate and we are very pleased," said Rick Matthews, Crocker's lawyer.

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.

Nazario's commanding officer for the Army told jurors he talked to Nazario about what happened the morning after the traffic stop. According to his testimony, the commanding officer said Nazario has never been the same.

He described Nazario as “outgoing" and "gregarious,” but the traffic stop has left him shaken and impacted his military life.

Nazario declined to comment on the verdict of the case other than to say that he appreciated all who supported him. Gutierrez and Crocker did not comment.

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