Police in the town of Windsor, Virginia released a statement on Sunday (April 11), acknowledging the “unfortunate events that transpired” regarding the pepper-spraying and arrest of U.S. Army Medical Corps Lieutenant Caron Nazario.
The department also announced the firing of officer Joe Gutierrez over the December 5 incident. After an internal investigation, the town said Guttierrez did not follow department policy. According to CBS News, they did not provide any further information on the second officer, Daniel Crocker, involved in the incident, but did say the department is requiring additional training.
Nazario filed a lawsuit against the two officers, who allegedly pulled him over in his car, drew their guns before pepper spraying and knocking him onto the ground.
In the lawsuit, Second Lt. Caron Nazario claims that Windsor police racially profiled him and threatened to kill him in actions that might have negatively affected his military career, according to Newsweek.
The incident was recorded both in body camera footage and on Nazario's cellphone. Video of the event was shared online on Friday, and the officers have drawn widespread criticism.
.@WindsorPD, as a veteran; and as a human being; I demand that you hold officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez accountable for their police brutality assault of Lt. Caron Nazario. pic.twitter.com/4NXNf6jGeI— David Weissman (@davidmweissman) April 10, 2021
A member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps based in Virginia, Nazario was in uniform when he was pulled over on his way home in his Chevy Tahoe from his duty station.
Crocker made a radio call, claiming he was attempting to stop a vehicle without a rear license plate and that the driver was "eluding police," according to a report he filed after the incident.
Nazario, however, had a temporary license plate taped to the inside of his rear window and it was reportedly visible by the time the officers reached the car, according to the lawsuit. The vehicle was new to him and he hadn't yet been issued with permanent plates, the report says.
When cops ordered him out of the car, he said he was afraid to get out of the car. The officer replied, “Yeah, you should be.”
After that, body camera footage shows the officers pepper-spraying, striking him in the knees, handcuffing him, and threatening to bring charges against him if he complained about their conduct, according to the footage and the lawsuit. He has sued the officers, accusing them of racially profiling him, and violating his constitutional rights.
Photo: Windsor Police Department