Washington – The governor of the US state of Virginia vowed a full investigation yesterday after footage emerged of two police officers detaining a Black army officer at gunpoint and pepper-spraying him in the face.
Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, repeatedly asked what he had done wrong and said, “This is really messed up,” as the officers holding guns demanded he get out of his car.
The police accused him of not cooperating.
Nazario, wearing his military uniform, was driving a newly bought SUV when the officers ordered him to pull over because he did not have permanent licence plates, news reports said.
Virginia governor Ralph Northam said in a statement he had instructed police to conduct an “independent investigation” into the incident, which he said was “disturbing and angered me.”
Police in the United States have been hit with multiple allegations of racism and misconduct, including over the death of a Black man in Minneapolis last year in a case that attracted international outrage.
A police officer is currently on trial over George Floyd’s death, facing charges of manslaughter and murder.
The Washington Post said that Nazario, a health administration officer with the Virginia National Guard, was driving home on December 5 when he was pulled over.
Footage from the officers’ bodycams and Nazario’s phone spread rapidly over the weekend after Nazario filed a lawsuit on April 2 seeking US$1 million (RM4.14 million) in damages.
He was released without charge after the incident.
The lawsuit reportedly claims police threatened to end his military career if he spoke out about the officers’ conduct.
“We must keep working to ensure Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable,” Northam said. — AFP