A Virginia police officer who pepper-sprayed and threatened to homicide a Black and Latino second lieutenant within the US military was fired following an investigation into the “horrifying” site visitors cease incident of December 2020.
Windsor police officer Joe Gutierrez was terminated from service after an inside investigation concluded that the police division’s “coverage was not adopted” and pepper spray was used towards Lieutenant Caron Nazario, officers of Windsor, Virginia, mentioned in an announcement.
Lieutenant Nazario filed a federal lawsuit on 2 April, in search of $1m in damages and for the court docket to rule that each officers violated the structure. The lawsuit claimed that in the course of the site visitors cease, the officers “threatened to homicide him” and finish his army profession if he went public concerning the incident.
On 5 December, 2020, Lt Nazario, who was nonetheless wearing his uniform on the time, was stopped by two officers on US Freeway 460 in Windsor.
The incident captured on bodycam footage confirmed officer Gutierrez and one other officer Daniel Crocker pointing weapons at Lt Nazario whereas asking him to get down. Through the incident, Lt Nazario mentioned he was afraid to get out of his automobile and the officer responded: “Yeah you have to be.”
The lieutenant was pepper strayed whereas he was nonetheless in his automobile together with his fingers up, compelled to kneel down and struck by the officer.
The video went viral on Twitter together with his identify trending as individuals expressed fury on the incident.
Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam directed state police to analyze the site visitors cease incident, saying it disturbed and angered him.
“Our Commonwealth has achieved vital work on police reform, however we should maintain working to make sure Virginians are secure throughout interactions with police, the enforcement of legal guidelines is honest and equitable, and individuals are held accountable,” Mr Northam, a Democrat, mentioned.
Lt Nazario was initially pulled over by officers as a result of he didn’t have a everlasting rear licence plate.
The lawsuit mentioned that an officer radioed to dispatch that the motive force of a black SUV was with no tag, “eluding police” and it was a “high-risk cease”. Mr Nazario made a cease at a gasoline station in lower than two minutes after being signalled by the officers.
Virginia congressman Bobby Scott, whose constituency for the Home of Representatives contains Windsor, mentioned he was “horrified” to look at the video and it ought to have been a “routine” cease. He additionally demanded police reforms.
“I used to be horrified after I considered the lately launched video footage of the police remedy of Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant within the US Military,” he mentioned. “This could have been a routine site visitors cease and the video speaks for itself.”
Mr Scott mentioned the video comes because the Hampton Roads neighborhood remains to be mourning the lack of Donovan Lynch, who was killed by officers whose physique cameras have been turned off.