A Windsor, Virginia police officer who escalated a traffic stop of a Black and Latino Army Lieutenant has been fired from the force.
In December 2020, Windsor cops Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez pulled over Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and drew their guns before using pepper spray and knocking him to the ground.
Footage of the incident was shared online Friday, prompting national attention and widespread criticism.
In a statement released Sunday evening, the Town of Windsor announced that Gutierrez had been “terminated from his employment.”
“The pursuit and ultimate stop resulted in the use of pepper spray against Lt. Nazario by Officer Gutierrez. As a result of this use of force, Department policy requires an internal investigation to determine the appropriateness of such actions,” the statement read. “The investigation of this event began immediately. At the conclusion of this investigation, it was determined that Windsor Police Department policy was not followed”
“This resulted in disciplinary action, and department-wide requirements for additional training were implemented beginning in January and continue to the present. Since that time, Officer Gutierrez was also terminated from his employment,” the Town added.
This month, Nazario filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleging that the officers violated his Constitutional rights, engaged in racial profiling, threatened to kill him and that their actions may have negatively impacted his military career.
Dr. Erroll Southers, former assistant chief of homeland security and intelligence for the Los Angeles Airports Police Department, told Newsweek on Saturday that “the department should never be allowed to investigate this misconduct.”
“They should not be allowed to investigate themselves. There needs to be some oversight here,” he said. “I think they deserve an investigation and the outcome should be discipline, up to and including termination.”
A Newsweek analysis of Windsor police data found that the seven-person police force engaged in roughly 200 monthly traffic stops last year. In November, they conducted 246 and 174 in December, when the incident involving Nazario took place. Additionally, data also showed that the town continued to ramp up traffic related stops in 2021, with 323 conducted in March.
The rural town of Windsor, roughly 30 miles west of Norfolk, only has 2,700 residents.
Southers suggested that the town could be profiling and utilizing traffic stops for revenue generation.
Newsweek reached out to the Windsor Police Department for comment.