ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — Fallout continues over a traffic stop involving a Virginia National Guard Lieutenant in Windsor, 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 was ultimately peppered-sprayed, kicked. and handcuffed 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 Crocker.
“Get out of the car now,” yelled 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, saying “I am actively serving this country and this is how you are going to treat me?”
Gutierrez, who has since been fired, responded, “Guess what, I am a veteran, too. I learned to obey.”
The Army lieutenant holds 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, “Yeah, you should be. Get out.”
Gutierrez eventually pepper-sprays Nazario then kicks him and shoves him to the ground.
“It went way off the hinges very quickly,” said the use of force expert and retired Los Angeles police detective, Timothy Williams, Jr., adding that this is not how officers are trained to conduct traffic stops.
“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,” Williams said.
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: “I was pulling over to well light area for my safety and yours.”
There’s been no word regarding disciplinary actions for Crocker. Williams says there 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 in sharing the videos and implementing department-wide training. Gutierrez was reportedly fired on Sunday, a day after the video and lawsuit surfaced.
“Well this happened December 5 and we’re into April,” Williams said. “What’s today’s date — April 12th? Well, that’s five months. I don’t see the transparency.”