The Virginia police officer who was filmed pepper-spraying a uniformed Black Army officer after holding him at gunpoint has been fired

Ashley Collman
·3 min read
caron nazario
Officer Joe Gutierrez, left, and 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario during the traffic stop. Windsor Police via AP
  • 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario sued Virginia police officers over a traffic stop he says violated his rights.

  • The officer who pepper-sprayed Nazario after holding him at gunpoint was fired, officials said.

  • The governor of Virginia has also ordered an independent investigation into the incident.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The police officer at the center of a video showing a uniformed Black Army officer being held at gunpoint and pepper-sprayed during a traffic stop has been fired, officials said on Sunday.

The traffic stop happened on December 5 and gained attention this month after 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario filed a lawsuit against the two Windsor, Virginia, police officers who pulled him over, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.

In the lawsuit, Nazario, a Black and Latino second lieutenant in the US Army, said that his constitutional rights under the First and Fourth Amendments were violated by the officers, who were seen in bodycam footage yelling at him to get out of his vehicle, pointing their guns at him, pepper-spraying him, and knocking him to the ground.

Watch the moment here:

In the video, Nazario is heard saying that he's "honestly afraid" to get out of his car, to which Gutierrez said, "Yeah, you should be." The officer is then seen pepper-spraying Nazario after Gutierrez tried and failed to open Nazario's driver's-side door.

While the town manager told The Virginian-Pilot on Thursday that the two officers were still employed by the police department, by Sunday a statement from the town said that Gutierrez had been fired "since that time."

It is not clear whether Gutierrez was fired as a direct result of Nazario's lawsuit. The town of Windsor didn't immediately respond to a request for clarification.

caron nazario 2
Nazario was placed in handcuffs during the December 5 traffic stop. He is suing the two police officers over the incident. Windsor Police via AP

Meanwhile, Gov. Ralph Northam has ordered the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation into the traffic stop. The town of Windsor said it welcomed the plan.

In a tweet, the governor said he found the incident "disturbing," and that it "angered" him. He said he plans to meet with Nazario soon.

Nazario's lawsuit comes amid a period of increased attention to police use of force and the treatment of Black men by law enforcement, following the death of George Floyd last year.

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for minutes before his death, is now on trial, charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd's death prompted nationwide protests last year, and some of the protests in Minneapolis turned violent.

Protests broke out again on Sunday night in Minneapolis following the news that a 20-year-old Black man had been fatally shot during a traffic stop in the nearby city of Brooklyn Center.

Read the original article on Insider