Another black eye for the police...but is it justified?
The current controversy about the detaining of Lt. Caron Nazario is a classic example of how the media distort events in order to create hostility. Newsweek reported, "In December 2020, Windsor cops Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez pulled over Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and drew their guns before using pepper spray and knocking him to the ground." CNN reported, "The Windsor officers pointed guns at, pepper sprayed and pushed a Black US Army officer to the ground during the traffic stop last December." Police body-cam footage of the traffic stop of Nazario was viewed more than 9 million times since it was shared on Twitter Friday. It does not reflect well on the officers or Nazario.
Caron Nazario intentionally created a hostile situation by not obeying lawful orders. He had his cell phone positioned so he could record the incident. It is common sense that if you disobey a police officer's order, you are going to have a problem. The lieutenant could have benefited from watching Chris Rock's video titled "How not to get your ass kicked by the police!" It is humorous and directed at black people, but it is a serious subject that applies to people of any race. Rock mentions several items, but the first three are the most important: stop immediately, obey the law, and use common sense. Being polite might be optional, but it does not hurt.
When you are stopped by the police, you have no idea why you were stopped. If you were speeding, you might surmise that that was the reason you were stopped. However, your vehicle may have matched an alert for an armed and dangerous subject. When officers approach you with their weapons drawn, you might think it is more than just a routine traffic stop. Nazario informed the officers, "I have not committed any crime." He also informed them, "For a traffic violation, I do not have to get out of the vehicle." Should the officers just have taken his word for it?
Nazario intentionally frustrated the officers, and they allowed themselves to be frustrated. That was the cause of the idiotic comments they made: "What's going on is you're fixing to ride the lightning, son." There was no need to respond to Nazario's remark, "I'm honestly afraid to get out," with "you should be." Nazario was told, "Open the door slowly and step out." He was told "open the door" several times. He responded, "I'm not getting out of the vehicle." In response to his question, "What's going on?," he was told at one point, "Get out of the car. Work with us, and we'll talk to you."
The police claim that he was pulled over because they did not see his license plate. I saw the video and did not see the paper plate. CBS claims that the temporary dealer plate was visible in the officer's body camera video. Was it visible from a distance? Nazario is claiming "racial profiling" in his lawsuit. It is unlikely that he was pulled over because he is Black. The vehicle had tinted windows, and the incident took place at night.
Much is being made of the fact that Nazario was in uniform. He told the officers, "I'm serving this country, and this is how I'm treated." Being in the military is not a guarantee that you are not a threat. Major Nidal Malik Hasan was in uniform when he murdered 13 soldiers. Nazario claims in his lawsuit that the officer's actions "may have negatively impacted his military career." This seems unlikely. Sergeant major of the Army Michael Grinston tweeted that Nazario "represented himself and our Army well through his calm, professional response to the situation. I'm very proud of him." The lesson here is that according to the leadership in the military, it is permissible to disobey police orders as long as you remain calm and professional.
Officer Gutierrez was terminated because he did not follow department policy. News reports do not say exactly what department policy Gutierrez violated. Police violate department policies all the time. Did the Capitol policeman violate the department's use of force policy when he shot Ashli Babbitt? There does not appear to be much media interest in this particular violation.
The media want to agitate people against the police, and they have been successful, as a large number of the comments on the subject show. You get out of your car. You show your ID, and, in most cases, you go on your way.
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing). He has a Master of Arts degree in international relations from St. Mary's University. He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. He is featured on the BBC's program "Things We Forgot to Remember:" Morgenthau Plan and Post-War Germany.
Image via Needpix.
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.