Dec 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia AG sues town for "discriminatory policing"

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sued the Town of Windsor on Thursday, accusing its police department of "unconstitutional and discriminatory policing."

Why it matters: An investigation into the town's police department was prompted by a traffic stop in December 2020 in which two officers pepper-sprayed and drew their guns on Army officer Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino.

Details: The lawsuit, filed in Isle of Wight Circuit Court, alleges the police department "lacks adequate policies to ensure that it is using force in a non-discriminatory manner."

  • The suit also says that the department violated the Virginia Human Rights Act, citing data indicating that "approximately 42% of traffic stops are conducted on Black drivers."

What they're saying: "Our investigation was spurred by the egregious treatment against Lt. Nazario that we all saw in bodycam footage," Herring said in a statement.

  • We "discovered that this incident was indicative of much larger problems within the department," he added. "Our months-long investigation uncovered huge disparities in enforcement against African American drivers."
  • "We even discovered evidence that officers were actually being trained to go 'fishing' and engage in pretextual stops. That is why I have now filed suit to ensure accountability and to protect Virginians' rights."

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