An internal investigation determined that Gutierrez did not follow department policy.
Windsor Police officer Joe Gutierrez, who was involved in the December 2020 forceful traffic stop involving Black Army officer Caron Nazario, has been fired.
While NBC4 Washington reports while "the two sides in the case dispute what happened ... Windsor officials said an internal investigation opened at the time into the use of force determined that department policy wasn’t followed. Officials said disciplinary action was taken and Gutierrez has since been fired."
The incident, which motivated the Windsor Police Department's actions regarding Gutierrez, occurred on December 20, 2020, during a traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia, 70 miles southeast of Richmond. Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was driving dressed in his Army uniform when he was pulled over by officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.
Crocker reported that he believed Nazario was "eluding police" and he considered it a "high-risk traffic stop.” Attorney Jonathan Arthur told The Associated Press that Nazario wasn’t trying to elude the officer, but was "trying to stop in a well-lit area." Nazario was pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground by Gutierrez and Nazario, who he accuses of also "drawing their guns ... and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution."
Last month, Nazario filed a lawsuit against Gutierrez and Crocker, saying "his constitutional rights were violated by the traffic stop."
Governor Ralph Northam directed State Police to further investigate the December incident, saying, "Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable." Windsor Police, in addition to firing Gutierrez, added "departmentwide requirements for additional training" in January of this year.
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