An Army Officer in Virginia is seeking more than $1 million in damages against two police officers after being pepper-sprayed and forced to the ground during a traffic stop in December.
The incident caught on video shows Army Lt. Caron Nazario pulled over in a black SUV for reportedly driving without a rear license plate. Windsor Police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker are seen approaching the vehicle with their weapons drawn demanding Nazario to get out while trying to deescalate the situation and ask why he is being pulled over.
Nazario, who was in uniform at the time of the stop, was outside a gas station as he held his hands up through the driver’s side window. A disturbing exchange with Nazario saying he is “honestly afraid to get out” of his vehicle. The officer then responds by saying, “Yeah, you should be.”
The Army Lieutenant was then blasted with pepper spray and forced to the ground.
The officers later tell Nazario they’ll let him go if he remained quiet about the incident, but that he would face additional charges if he complained. Nazario was later released at the scene and not charged.
A series of videos from the officers’ body cameras and a reverse angle from Nazario’s cellphone went viral last week.
Following an internal investigation, Gutierrez was fired and additional officer training was implemented for the entire force, Windsor Town Manager William Saunders said in a statement Sunday.
“The Town has also requested an investigation of this event by the Virginia State Police, and joins with elected officials who have called for a full and complete review of the actions of these officers,” Saunders said.
“We are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light,” he added.
Many people including Virginia’s governor and those from the NAACP expressing outrage at the actions of Windsor police officers after the videos were released.
Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement Sunday saying the incident “is disturbing and angered me.” He also said Virginia State Police would be investigating the incident.