Apr 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Army officer lawsuit shines light on police treatment of Afro-Latinos

A screenshot from bodycam footage showing U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario during the traffic stop in December, when he was pepper-sprayed.
A screenshot from bodycam footage showing U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario during the traffic stop in December, when he was pepper-sprayed.

Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was threatened and pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop that is now under investigation by the Virginia attorney general's office for being “dangerous, unnecessary, unacceptable and avoidable.”

Why it matters: Nazario’s resulting lawsuit against the Windsor, Virginia, police department has brought attention to police treatment of Afro-Latinos, and the lack of data about it despite a growing reckoning over abuses from law enforcement.

By the numbers: Out of the 40 states that report arrests, prison population and parolees data according to race, only 15 do it according to Latino or other ethnicities, according to a 2016 study.

  • Experts warn that keeps the extent of the criminal justice issues Latinos face hidden, and sometimes counting them as white also masks disparities of the system overall.
  • One in every four Latinos in the U.S. identified themselves as Afro-Latino or afrocaribeño in a Pew Research survey.
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