The incident unfolded in December during a traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia.
Trigger Warning: This story contains race-motivated violence that some readers may find disturbing
In a shocking viral video, a Black Latino army officer was forced to the ground by two police officers who pepper-sprayed and held him at gunpoint during an illegal traffic stop. According to CBS News, officials announced on Sunday that one of the officers has since been fired. The incident unfolded on December 5, last year in the town of Windsor, Virginia. A statement released by the Windsor Police Department revealed that officer Joe Gutierrez had been discharged of his duties following the "unfortunate events that transpired." The decision came just days after Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino man, hit the small town of Windsor, Virginia with a lawsuit.
Police officers in Virginia held a Black, Latino Army lieutenant at gunpoint, handcuffed him and doused him with pepper spray — all during an illegal traffic stop.— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 12, 2021
One of the officers has been fired, and an investigation is ongoing. https://t.co/iAXVxjxNed pic.twitter.com/XXBXB8tY0l
Both body camera and cell phone footage showed Nazario still in his uniform when the disturbing incident went down. The army officer's hands were visible out of the window of his new vehicle. "I've not committed any crime," said Nazario when he was ordered to get out of the car. The Windsor police officers had drawn their guns when they directed him to step out of the vehicle. Understandably, the army officer was concerned about his safety and thus he expressed the same. "I'm honestly afraid to get out," he said.
Let’s not forget that this is disturbing. Let’s not forget that he is an officer (in uniform) serving his country. Let’s not forget he has a right to be treated like a HUMAN Being not a dog. Let’s not forget George Floyd. When will this STOP!— AntiquesAtlanta (@AntiquesAtl) April 12, 2021
To this, one officer responded saying, "Yeah dude, you should be." Nazario proceeds to repeatedly ask the reason for being pulled over but one of two officers suddenly starts to pepper spray and kick him. At this point, he expresses his concern over his dog, who he believed was choking on pepper spray in the backseat of his car. Nazario is then seen handcuffed by one cop while the other searched the car. "Why am I being treated like this? Why?" he asks again and the cop replies, "Because you're not cooperating." Gutierrez was heard saying, "You're fixin' to ride the lighting, son." Jonathan Arthur, the attorney representing Nazario in the lawsuit filed against the two officers, shared his client was scared that if his hands were out of the officers' view, something bad would happen.
Black Army officer held at gunpoint in his car: “I’m honestly afraid to get out.”— Qasim Rashid, Esq. قاسم رشید (@QasimRashid) April 10, 2021
Cop: “Yeah, you should be.”
Cops then pepper sprayed, beat, & handcuffed Army LT Caron Nazario was while in uniform... then let him go😐
Horrific police violencepic.twitter.com/XMcGHXVKc8
"To unbuckle his seatbelt, to do anything, any misstep — he was afraid that they were going to kill him," explained Arthur. Per the incident report, Nazario was initially pulled over for not having tags displayed on his SUV. That being said, the temporary dealer plate was visible in the officer's body camera video. After being assaulted and restrained, Nazario was released without any charges. Revealing the reason behind the army personnel's decision to file a lawsuit, Arthur said, "What prompted him to file is the need to stop this conduct. The need to hold these two officers accountable and make sure they cannot do it again."
He had a temp tag on the back window of the car.— Patricia Graham (@pkrg) April 12, 2021
Nazario, an Army Health Services Administration Officer serving in the Virginia National Guard's Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, accused the two officers of using excessive force, conducting an illegal car search, and violating his constitutional rights. The town carried out an internal investigation and said that did not follow department policy. They did not say anything about the other officers, Daniel Crocker, who was involved in the incident but noted that the department is requiring additional training. "The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department. 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," they said.
Who gives AF if he had a gun or does the 2nd amendment only apply to White ppl he did nothing wrong...the temp tag was visible from one of the officers cameras so they seen it...ppl like swear to be a patriot and are not— Bone_Brown (@SCG_TOP_SHOTTA) April 12, 2021
On Monday, the Virginia National Guard told CBS News, "Lt. Nazario's unit has been aware of the incident since it occurred in early December, and they have remained in close contact with him and made sure he had any support needed from the Virginia National Guard." Following Gutierrez's termination, Arthur regarded the decision as "appropriate," but called for more scrutiny. "We must consider steps to decertify officers that engage in this behavior so that they cannot seek employment with other law enforcement agencies," he said, condemning Officer Crocker for failing to stop an unjust act.
That Temp tag was in the back car window visible once they approached from the report. And my husband drives with a handgun everyday , don’t see him being treated this way ? Excuses. Until PO are trained in a different way this cycle continues— Donna 💙s Titans ✌🏻💛💙 (@asportsjunky) April 12, 2021
"Additionally, the law enforcement community has to consider seriously the failure of officers like Daniel Crocker to promptly intervene to end an unjust police-civilian encounter as it unfold," said Arthur. "Too often, officers will support their colleagues, right or wrong, at the cost of innocent citizens." Even Virginia Governor Ralph Northam regarded the incident "disturbing" and said he is steering the state police to conduct an independent investigation. "I am inviting Army medic Lieutenant Caron Nazario to meet soon—we must all continue the larger dialogue about reform in our country," he revealed in a statement.