The Most 2021 Case Ever: the 2nd Lieutenant Nazario Case and the Need to Be Your Own Juror
Everything about the 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario case is weird. Well, it would be weird if this wasn’t 2021. For starters, we have police officer Joe Gutierrez using some really weird language like, “ride the lightning” when threatening to use a taser on 2nd Lieutenant Nazario (slang for people condemned to the electric chair thank you very much Eric Church). Secondly, Gutierrez responds “you should be,” when 2nd Lieutenant Nazario mentions that he is scared. Granted, that is less weird and more like the vernacular of a power-tripping cop.
On the flip side, you have the not-so-weird in 2021 aspect of everybody reacting to a completely out-of-context video. And the even less weird media push to repeat the same story over and over again while omitting really important information. Thankfully, because this is 2021, we have so much video evidence that we can play a game; be your own juror.
Now, a confession; I served as a juror on a 2nd Degree Murder case in Hartford, CT about a decade ago. To make a long story short, we convicted the man because there was no reasonable explanation or doubt anybody else did it. No matter what you see on television, sitting there realizing that the person in the courtroom literally killed another human being is not fun. Nor is then making the next step to set aside your emotions and look at the case objectively to ensure you are not doing the defendant a disservice.
The defendant deserves that you are objective as possible. His life is on the line, and until 12 people all agree and say, “guilty,” the defendant is innocent. The defendant is innocent until proven guilty–the same way every defendant is innocent until proven guilty–and you really do have to obviously have been the killer to get convicted in our justice system. That is a good thing; better to let nine guilty men go than to lock up one innocent man.
What is So Weird About the 2nd Lieutenant Nazaro Case
But back to 2nd Lt. Nazario. This case truly is weird because it is a perfect microcosm for the current divide in America. It is a Rorschach test of sorts; you will see and hear what you want to see and hear depending on your priors. Like most cases tried in the public sphere before the courtroom, everybody has already jumped to their own conclusions. The first time I saw the video, my immediate reaction was, “that’s a really weird response from the police officers. I wonder what happened prior to that.”
I had that reaction because the first video I saw started with two police officers dragging a member of the Army out of his SUV and detaining him on the ground.
Back the Blue No Matter Who, right?
Here is the truth, when all the good cops walk off the force, you're left with these shitbag scabs w/ no bearing. Caron Nazario. Lieutenant. Army Medic. pic.twitter.com/sTozWIelfC
— Malcolm Fle✘ (@Malcolm_fleX48) April 11, 2021
So, if we’re playing the “be your own juror” game, from this piece of evidence, the cops look and sound like they have abused their powers. But 45 seconds of a video where a guy clearly is already maced or pepper-sprayed is not enough to make a conclusion. There is unquestionably more video than this one segment, and after 45 seconds, we have more questions than answers. Questions like: Were these bad cops? Did this guy bring it on himself? Is the situation somewhere in the middle? Why did he get pulled over in the first place? So, like anybody who considers himself a journalist, I went in search of more evidence.
And then things got much weirder. The next video I found started with a view from behind the SUV, but now both cops had their guns drawn.
So now I had another question, “how the hell did this go from cops yelling with guns drawn to Army guy getting pepper-sprayed?” Usually, things work in the opposite direction in these cases of police abuse, so something is really weird in this Lieutenant Nazario case. There has to be more to this story. There has to be more evidence, right?
Here is ALL of the Evidence So You Can Be Your Own Juror
If you want, you can find all the evidence yourself. It takes some time, but it’s possible. However, even though I’m not the nicest guy, I do consider myself an honest guy and want you to form your own opinion.
Do you know how you do so? By being your own juror! So, look at the evidence! Not the story that the nightly news is showing you, not the story that I or others are trying to tell you, but by looking at the evidence yourself!
Evidence like the full video from 2nd Lt. Nazario phone (with 349 views):
Evidence like the body cam footage from Officer Guttierez (with 6,836 views):
Or evidence from the second officer’s body cam (with 1,253 views):
And finally more bodycam footage from after the altercation (with 842 views).
According to these view counts, 9,280 people watched the all the videos combined (as of 2200 on April 12th). Fewer than 10,000 people in the entire world have watched all of these videos. The reason I harp on trust–and wrote an entire article about how trusting easily is not just stupid, but unAmerican–is for this exact reason. Literally millions of people have seen the NBC news version where they tell you what happened. Millions of people would rather let NBC News form their opinions for them instead of putting in the work and getting the unvarnished story.
Do You Care Enough to Watch Or Are You Cool Peddling Ignorant Opinions?
But how many people have spent the 72 minutes to watch all the different angles and versions? How many people can actually tell you how long 2nd Lt. Nazario drove for before pulling over? Whether he passed other “well-lit” areas or was that the only one? Or conversely what speeds he was going in order to get there? Was he erratic? Was he under control? How many people know what kind of traffic stop the younger officer stated the stop was or can tell you why he was pulled over? How many people know how the conversation and incident went after this all transpired?
These are all questions everybody who is currently spouting off their opinions should be able to answer (looking at you Ben Shapiro). And yet… fewer than 10,000 have watched the entirety of these videos. Sure, maybe those numbers are a bit low, maybe people gathered in groups to watch the videos. So sure, let’s be liberal with the numbers and multiply them by a factor of 10. So, now with our new liberal number, 100,000 people have watched the required material. How many people worldwide do you think already formed their opinions about Nazario, Gutierrez, and police officer Daniel Crocker without watching the videos? 10 million? 100 million? More?
We Are a Regrettably Lazy Society
In what world is this acceptable behavior? We all care so much about being first and forming opinions, we have completely disregarded truth and accuracy. In my opinion, in the macro, everybody except for Crocker is at fault here. Officer Gutierrez was power-tripping and 2nd Lieutenant Nazario was uncooperative and not compliant from the get-go. His behavior put the cops on edge, and their reaction is understandable! But so too are the actions of 2nd Lieutenant Nazario!
But in the micro, officer Guitierrez was unprofessional and used some idiotic language and got fired for it. Good. If he is the type of cop that gets so wound up he confuses “arrested” for “detained,” then unfortunately maybe he is not supposed to be a cop (the same type of mistake 2nd Lieutent Nazario made when referring to himself as a “veteran” instead of active duty; again, it’s a weird case where even the mistakes made between Gutierrez and Nazario are even similar). Maybe that’s why only Gutierrez got fired and not Crocker. But that’s pure conjecture. We won’t know until we get the results of the internal investigation.
The Lieutenant Nazario Case Proves We Are an Undeserving Lot
But that is our culture’s problem; not knowing does not stop us from forming opinions. Maybe 100,000 people have cared enough to watch all the available video. I know for a fact my favorite political pundit went on air and told his viewers his perspective without seeing all the evidence. As for everybody else? They haven’t watched the video either, but I bet they have opinions and have shared them. That is dangerous! That is how we got to this point as a country! People would rather have others tell them what to think, what to say, and what to believe instead of saying, “Hey, shut up, I got this.” In short, we no longer think, believe, or act like Americans!
While we nominally still live in one country, this country bifurcated long ago between those who think for themselves and those who capitulated their beliefs, which, in turn, made everything partisan. We can’t watch Star Wars shows without it being political. We can’t watch sports without it being political, and we turn every case hyper-partisan because we both refuse to wait for all the evidence and we let others tell us what the evidence is because we are too lazy or stupid to find out for ourselves.
So when I say this case is so weird, I mean the details are weird, the unknowns are weird, and it is weird we might never get straight answers to all of our questions. But the weirdest thing is how perfect this case is at pointing out how truly dived we are as a country and what we did (or didn’t do) in order to get to this point.