Virginia AG Herring sues Windsor, alleging discriminatory policing

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring sued the Town of Windsor, alleging that the town engaged in discriminatory policing against Black residents.

The attorney general’s office launched a months-long investigation into Windsor, which allegedly found discriminatory and unconstitutional policing that violated the constitutional rights of Black Americans. The lawsuit alleges that the town violated the Virginia Human Rights Act and the Virginia Public Integrity and Law Enforcement Misconduct Act through its policies, which would demonstrate systematic violations.

“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 said in a statement. “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. I believe that Virginians should be able to count on their attorney general to identify and stop violations of their constitutional rights.”

According to the investigation, police in the town disproportionately stopped Black drivers and disproportionately searched Black drivers’ vehicles. From July 1, 2020 until September 30, 2021, 42% of traffic stops were of Black drivers. The investigation claimed that Black drivers were between 200% and 500% more likely to be stopped. In the same time period, the investigation found that Windsor searched more cars driven by Black drivers than by white drivers even though Black drivers were not the majority of the population.

Although the lawsuit cited the disproportionate numbers, the lawsuit did not provide details on each of the stops or searches to show whether they were legitimate. The only specific case cited in the lawsuit was the controversial stop of U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario, a Black Latino man who was pepper sprayed and had firearms pointed at him.

“While our investigation was spurred by the egregious treatment against Lt. Nazario that we all saw in bodycam footage, we discovered that this incident was indicative of much larger problems within the department,” Herring said.

The Center Square reached out to Windsor officials for a statement, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. However, the town released a statement to other media outlets, which accused the attorney general’s lawsuit of being political.

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