Joe Gutierrez, a police officer with the Virginia State Police, was fired after a video of an incident which took place on December 5 emerged showing him holding an Army officer at gunpoint during an illegal traffic stop.
The footage clearly shows how Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario has his hands visible out of the window of his new SUV, but he’s still ordered to get out of the vehicle by Gutierrez. Apparently, Lt. Nazario was pulled over for not having tags displayed on his SUV although the temporary dealer plate is visible in the officer’s body camera video.
As he’s ordered to get out, Lt. Nazario could be heard saying, “I’ve not committed any crime,” after which the police officers pull their guns on him. At that point, Lt. Nazaro says, “I’m honestly afraid to get out,” to what one of the officers responds, “Yeah dude, you should be.”
A U.S. Army officer filed a federal civil lawsuit against police officers who pepper-sprayed and assaulted him.
Lt. Caron Nazario, of Latinx and African American descent, alleges that his constitutional rights were violated and race played a role. pic.twitter.com/YbqLAfa2w4
— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 9, 2021
In the next moment, Lt. Nazaro is paper-sprayed and handcuffed.
The case is currently at court as Lt. Nazaro is suing the town for the way he was treated for no apparent reason. The lawsuit claims unlawful seizure, illegal search, excessive force, violation of his constitutional rights, battery and false imprisonment. The lawsuit also says that the assault was racially motivated as Lt. Nazario is Latino and African American.
The cruelty expressed by Gutierrez and the other officer, Daniel Crocker, was highly condemned by both the citizens and their colleagues.
Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario: I’m afraid to get out of the car.
Virginia Police: Yeah you should be.
So much that angers my soul here. But note the repeated attempts to provoke & escalate this situation. Tell me these people are fit to carry a gun in a civilized society. pic.twitter.com/YL78aV9pTS
— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) April 10, 2021
“The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department,” the town said. “Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light. Rather than deflect criticism, we have addressed these matters with our personnel administratively, we are reaching out to community stakeholders to engage in dialogue, and commit ourselves to additional discussions in the future.”
Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston spoke of the incident as well and twitted that he was extremely proud of Lt. Nazario because he “represented himself and our Army well through his calm, professional response to the situation.”
This ugly incident has officially gone up-level: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam calls for probe into Caron Nazario pepper-spray incident – The Washington Post https://t.co/Ab8Tlgx2zL
— Joy-Ann Pro-Democracy & Masks Reid 😷 (@JoyAnnReid) April 11, 2021
Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia took to the social media to express his opinion regarding the matter, writing: “The incident in Windsor is disturbing and angered me — and I am directing the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation.
“Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure that Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable.”