Virginia AG Sues Town, Alleges ‘Discriminatory Policing’

Mark Herring, the outgoing attorney general of Virginia, is suing the town of Windsor over suspicion that the community’s police department is engaged in discriminatory policing practices, according to The Progress-Index.

The lawsuit from the attorney general’s office alleges that the Windsor Police Department engaged in discriminatory policing against African Americans and violated their constitutional rights.

“Our months-long investigation uncovered huge disparities in enforcement against African American drivers and a troubling lack of policies and procedures to prevent discriminatory or unconstitutional policing,” Herring stated in the lawsuit press release.

“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.”

The court filings allege that of 1,907 traffic stops between July 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, 42% of drivers were African American.

The filing also alleges that the department searched more vehicles driven by African American drivers than White drivers, despite African Americans being a minority in the town.

The investigation was initiated by a December 2020 traffic stop during which U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario was pepper-sprayed in his car by the Windsor Police Department on Route 460, The Progress-Index reported.

The incident drew national attention after a video was released due to a lawsuit by Nazario showing Officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker pulling the Black and Latino U.S. Army lieutenant over. Gutierrez was fired by the department soon after.

The state attorney general’s office is seeking a court order barring Windsor from engaging in discriminatory policing, department policy changes, and civil penalties of $50,000 for each proven violation of the Virginia Human Rights Act.

Herring will also ask for a period of third-party monitoring to ensure compliance.

Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares, who will be sworn in on Jan. 15, 2022, has not yet said if he will continue to pursue the case or not.

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