ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Fallout continues over a traffic stop involving a Virginia National Guard Lieutenant in Windsor, Virginia, about an hour and a half drive south of Richmond. The traffic stop quickly escalated with officers pointing their guns at the Black lieutenant. He’s ultimately peppered-sprayed, kicked and hand-cuffed in an incident that a use of force expert says should have never happened.
Body camera video shows an intense scene from the moment the stop is initiated.
Windsor police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker are seen immediately surrounding the Virginia National Guard 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario’s SUV with their guns drawn. The officers can be heard repeatedly yelling at Nazario.
“Open the door slowly and get out,” demanded Officer Crocker.
“Get out of the car now,” yelled Officer Gutierrez.
The incident happened on Dec. 5, 2020, at a BP gas station in Windsor. Nazario, a Virginia State University graduate, tried to identify himself.
He said, “I am actively serving this country and this is how you are going to treat me?”
Officer Gutierrez, who has since been fired responded saying, “Guess what I am a veteran too. I learned to obey.”
The Army lieutenant hold his hands up and outside the car window. He over and over again asks why he is being stopped and tells the officers he’s afraid to get out.
Gutierrez responded, “Yea, you should be. Get out.” Officer Gutierrez eventually pepper-sprays Nazario then kicks him and shoves him to the ground.
“It went way off the hinges very quickly,” said use of force expert Timothy Williams Jr. Williams, who is also a retired Los Angeles police detective, said this is not how officers are trained to conduct traffic stops.
Williams says, “I don’t know why they drew their guns? In my opinion, it was something that did not have to happen and it was excessive force.”
The traffic stop was allegedly for driving without a license plate. Yet, the body camera video shows a temporary tag displayed in the tinted rear window. “The whole thing didn’t have to be escalated. it was a simple stop. His plate, temporary plate was visible,” said Williams.
In the report filed the night of the incident, police say Nazario took too long to pull over.
On camera he can be heard explaining why he waited to pull over. He said, “I was pulling over to well light area for my safety and yours.”
There’s been no word regarding disciplinary actions for officer Crocker. Williams says he should be.
“He did nothing to intercede with the use of force that was being exhibited by Gutierrez,” Williams said.
In a press release, the Town of Windsor says it’s being transparent sharing the videos and implementing department-wide training. 8News learned Officer Gutierrez was fired on Sunday, a day after the video and lawsuit surfaced.
Williams told 8News, “Well this happened December 5 and we’re into April. What’s today’s date – April 12th? Well, that’s five months. I don’t see the transparency.”