Virginia police officer fired after Black Army lieutenant sprayed pepper and handcuffed during a parking lot
Police officer Joe Gutierrez was fired following an incident on December 5, which was filmed in the town of Windsor, Virginia in a statement on Sunday, admitting “serious incidents took place.” Caron Nazario, Second Lieutenant in the U.S. The Army Medical Corps, black and Latin, is suing the city.
After an internal investigation, the city said Gutierrez had not followed departmental guidelines. They did not provide further details about another official involved in the incident, Daniel Crocker, but said the department needed additional training.
“Windsor City is proud of the small town’s charm and respect for the community of the Police Department,” the city said. “As a result, we are disappointed with events like this to put our community in the wrong place.
In both body cameras and cell phone video, Nazario, wearing his military uniform, appears with his hands in the window of his car.
“I have never committed any crime,” Nazario said.
After that, two police officers ordered him to get out of the car, pulling out their guns.
“I’m really scared to get out,” he said.
“Yes brother, you must be so,” replied one policeman.
In the video, Nazario repeatedly asks why he was dragged, and one of the two policemen sprayed pepper and kicked him. He expresses concern for his dog, saying that he is choking on a pepper spray in the back seat.
Nazario asks, “Why am I being treated like this? Why?”
“Because you don’t cooperate,” replied the policeman.
“You’re ready to ride in the light, son,” Gutierrez said.
Attorney Jonathan Arthur, who represented Nazario in a court hearing earlier this month against the two officers, said he feared if he could get his hands out, something worse would happen.
“Taking off his seat belt, doing anything, and not going well – he’s afraid they’re going to kill him,” Arthur told CBS Evening News.
The incident report said Nazario was initially removed due to a lack of tags displayed on his SUV, but a temporary vendor plate can be seen in the police video camera. The Lieutenant had just bought a car.
Nazario was released without charge. He has accused officials of using excessive force, illegally searching his car and violating his constitutional rights.
“While this is appropriate, we must look at measures to ensure that the authorities behave in this way, so that they do not seek employment with other legal entities,” Arthur said in a statement on Monday, regarding Gutierrez’s dismissal. He also blamed Officer Crocker for his failure to mediate.
“Furthermore, the legal community is taking seriously the failure of officials such as Daniel Crocker to intervene immediately to end police and illegal connections as it happens,” he said. “Often, the police will support their colleagues, right or wrong, and lose innocent civilians.”
He told CBS News that he believed Nazario would meet with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, but did not specify when.
Northam called the incident “disturbing” and on Sunday ordered state police to conduct an independent investigation.
“I invite the military doctor, Lieutenant Caron Nazario, to meet soon – we must all continue the great dialogue on change in our country,” he said in a statement.
Following his statement, the Virginia State Police said they began a thorough and accurate investigation into the condition of the vehicles.