Officials said on Sunday a POLICE officer was involved in a controversial car stop where police pulled a gun at a chaotic soldier before threatening and spraying him with tear gas.
Windsor police Joe Gutierrez was “terminated” following an internal investigation into Caron Nazario’s arrest – days after footage of the December incident appeared earlier this week.
Gutierrez’s sacking was first revealed in a press release from Windsor Town on Sunday night.
In the statement, the officials said Gutierrez was fired after it was believed he had failed to comply with department policy.
“The ultimate pursuit and containment led to Officer Gutierrez’s use of pepper spray against Lieutenant Nazario. Due to this use of force, Department policy requires an internal investigation to determine if the the appropriateness of those actions, “the statement begins.
“At the conclusion of this investigation it was determined that the Windsor Police Department policy was not being followed. This resulted in disciplinary action … Since that point, Officer Gutierrez was also judged. terminate work. “
Officials continue to emphasize that the Town of Windsor “prides itself on the charm of a small town and the respect of the community for its Police Department.”
“As a result, we are very sad that events like this have caused our community to be negative,” the statement said.
“Instead of deflecting criticism, we have addressed these issues with our employees administratively, we are liaising with community stakeholders to engage in dialogue and pledged to discuss more in the future. “
Officials have not said whether the second officer involved in the arrest, Daniel Cocker, will face – or will face – any form of discipline.
Earlier this month, Nazario, a lieutenant in the US Army, filed a lawsuit alleging that Guitierrez and Crocker used excessive force in a December 5 stop.
Under the suit, the officers drew guns and pointed them at Nazario, made a Green Mile reference proposing execution, sprayed him with tear gas and hit him to the ground.
Shocking full-body footage shows Nazario, black and Latino, raising both hands and telling Windsor Police Station officers that he was “frankly scared out of the car”.
“Yes, you should,” replied one of the officers, Joe Gutierrez.
Before stopping, Crocker radioed that he was trying to pull Nazario over because he didn’t have a number plate behind and was driving with the tinted windows.
Crocker said that the driver was “evading the police.”
The lawsuit said that Nazario drove for one minute and 40 seconds to pull into a “well-lit area” for police officers.
Gutierrez joined the stop after his colleague called the incident “a high-risk traffic stop.”
The lawsuit said by the time the police let Nazario stop his car, his license plate was already in the rear window of his new SUV.
The scene on the bodycam clearly shows the soldier wearing a military uniform and extending his hands out the window of the car.
Two visible officers immediately pulled out their guns and pointed them at Nazario before attempting to pull him out of the car.
At one point, Nazario said he was scared when he reached down to take off his seat belt.
The policemen sprayed him with tear gas several times before he got out of the car.
At one point, officer Gutierrez told Nazario he was “fixed to light riding”, a reference from the movie The Green Mile, about a black man facing the death penalty.
“This is a colloquial expression for an execution, derived from the glib reference to electric chair execution,” said the lawsuit against the officers.
When Nazario finally got out of the car, he repeatedly asked for a supervisor.
Gutierrez then hit him with a “knee blow” in the leg, according to the suit.
The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, said Nazario’s constitutional rights had been violated, with his lawyers calling the case a violation of racist justice.
Despite being sprayed with tear gas, beaten and handcuffed in the incident, Nazario was not charged.
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In a report on the incident, Gutierrez wrote that he “did not want to see” Nazario’s military career “ruined by a wrong decision.”
Over the weekend, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called an independent investigation to lead to a “disturbing” arrest.
“Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must continue to work to ensure the people of Virginia are safe in their interactions with police, law enforcement France is fair and equal and everyone should be held accountable, “he said in a statement.