Attorney General sues Windsor police for “discriminatory” practices
- Written by Mechelle Hankerson | email@example.com | 757-889-9466
- Category: Local News
- Published: 30 December 2021
Attorney General Mark Herring is suing the Windsor Police Department for “unconstitutional and discriminatory” practices.
Herring began the months-long investigation after a video of two Windsor officers pulling over Lt. Caron Nazario in late 2020 began circulating the internet earlier this year.
“While our investigation was spurred by the egregious treatment against Lt. Nazario that we all saw in bodycam footage, we discovered that this incident was indicative of much larger problems within the department,” Herring said in a statement.
Herring’s investigation into the department claims Windsor police disproportionately stop and search Black drivers like Nazario.
Nazario, who is Black and Latino, was pulled over in Windsor in late 2020. In April, body camera footage of the stop became public because Nazario filed suit against the officers who pulled him over.
Nazario was driving a new SUV home from an Army drill weekend when Windsor police pulled him over because they believed he did not have a rear license plate in December 2020. The lawsuit says Nazario had a temporary plate taped to the inside of the back window. In the video, the officers exited their car with guns drawn and shouted at Nazario to exit his vehicle.
Body camera footage shows police pepper spraying Nazario and striking him once he exits the car.
According to the state’s investigation, Windsor Police made 1,907 traffic stops between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2020 in Isle of Wight County.
More than 800 of them - about 42% - involved Black drivers. The lawsuit claims Black residents make up no more than 21% of the town’s total population.
The state’s investigation also found discrepancies between the number of traffic stops the department reported to Windsor’s town council and Virginia state police.
According to the lawsuit, the number reported to the town was often lower than reported to state police.
“The Department lacks adequate policies to ensure that it is using force in a non-discriminatory manner, that it is performing traffic stops in a constiutional, non-pretextual and bias-free manner,” the lawsuit reads.
Herring is asking for Windsor to pay legal fees and $50,000 per violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act. The court would decide how many times the department violated the law.
The town would also have to adopt policies and procedures related to use-of-force, citizen complaints and traffic stop operations.
Windsor town manager William Saunders and town attorney Fred Taylor couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.