Summary List Placement
The police officer at the center of a video showing a uniformed Black Army officer being held at gunpoint and pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop has been fired, officials said Sunday.
The traffic stop happened on December 5, 2020, and gained attention this month after Lt. Caron Nazario filed a lawsuit against the two Windsor, Virginia, police officers who pulled him over, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.
In the lawsuit, Nazario, a Black and Latino second lieutenant in the US Army, argued that his constitutional rights under the first and fourth amendments were violated by the officers, who were seen in bodycam footage yelling at him to get out of his vehicle, pointing their guns at him, pepper-spraying him, and knocking him to the ground.
Watch the moment here:
In the video, Nazario is heard saying he’s “honestly afraid” to get out of his car, to which Gutierrez said: “Yeah, you should be.” The officer is then seen pepper-spraying Nazario after Gutierrez tried and failed to open the officer’s driver’s-side door.
While the town manager told The Virginia-Pilot on Thursday that the two officers were still employed by the police department, by Sunday a statement from the town said that Gutierrez had been fired “since that time.”
It is not clear whether Gutierrez was fired as a direct result of Nazario’s lawsuit. Insider has contacted the Windsor Police Department for clarification.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia has ordered the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation into the traffic stop. The town of Windsor said it welcomed the plan.
In a tweet, the governor said he found the incident “disturbing” and that it “angered” him. He said he plans to meet with Nazario soon.
Nazario’s lawsuit comes amid a period of increased attention to police use of force and the treatment of Black men by law enforcement, following the death of George Floyd last year.
The Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for several minutes before his death, Derek Chauvin, is currently on trial, charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Riots broke out again Sunday night in Minneapolis following the news that a 20-year-old Black man had been fatally shot during a traffic stop in the nearby city of Brooklyn Center.