Virginia Police Officer Fired After Black Army Lieutenant Pepper-Sprayed, Handcuffed During Traffic Stop

Officer Joe Gutierrez was fired following the December 5 incident, which was captured on video, the town of Windsor, Virginia said in a statement Sunday, acknowledging the "unfortunate events that transpired." Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, who is Black and Latino, is suing the town.

Video Transcript

- New details out of Windsor, Virginia, where one of the police officers involved in the controversial traffic stop of a Black and Latino Army officer has been fired, and the governor is ordering state police to investigate the incident. Body camera footage shows Windsor, Virginia police officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker pointing their guns at Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario before Gutierrez pepper sprays him. Lieutenant Nazario was released without charge and he's now suing both officers.

CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini has the story.

CARON NAZARIO: What's going on?

- How many occupants are in your vehicle?

CARON NAZARIO: It's only myself. Why are your weapons drawn? What's going on?

- Open the door slowly and step out. Get out!


- Get out of the car.

- Get out, now!

CARON NAZARIO: I have not committed any crime.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: In body camera and cell phone video, Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario, still in his uniform, holds his hands out the window of his new car, while two to Windsor, Virginia police officers, guns drawn, order him to get out.

CARON NAZARIO: I'm honestly afraid to get out. Can I--

- Yeah, you should be. Get out of the car now. Get out of the car.

CARON NAZARIO: Get your hands off me, please. Get your hands off me.

- You know what?

CARON NAZARIO: Get your hands off me. Get your hands off me. I didn't do anything. Don't do that.

- Sir.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Nazario repeatedly asks why he's been pulled over, before ex-officer Joe Gutierrez pepper-sprays him through the open window.

- Sir, just get out of the car.

CARON NAZARIO: I'm trying to breathe. My dog is in the back. My dog is choking right now.

- Get out of the car!

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Nazario is then kicked, forced to the ground, and put in handcuffs.

CARON NAZARIO: Why am I being treated like this? Why?

- 'Cause you're not cooperating.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: The incident report says Nazario was pulled over for not having tags displayed on his SUV, but the temporary dealer plate is visible in the officer's bodycam video. The report also said officers treated it as a high-risk stop because Nazario had tinted windows and drove at a very low speed to a gas station before pulling over-- a move Gutierrez later said he understood.

- As far as you not stopping because you weren't comfortable and you wanted a well-lit spot, Lieutenant, that happens all the time.

JONATHAN ARTHUR: He did everything that we are told to do to for everyone's safety.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: Attorney Jonathan Arthur represents Nazario.

JONATHAN ARTHUR: When you look in your rearview mirror and you see two firearms trained at you, you've got to get real calm real quick, if you want to get out of there alive. It's a credit to his training.

- What are you, a specialist, colonel? What are you?

CARON NAZARIO: I'm a lieutenant.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: According to the lawsuit, the officers also threatened to derail Nazario's military career if he pursued further action against them.

- If you want to just chill, let this go, and no charges filed, we'll take the handcuffs off. We'll get you a bottle of water to drink on and sit here until you feel comfortable driving.

CHRISTINA RUFFINI: After that search of his vehicle turned up no violation, Nazario was released without charge. The governor of Virginia is now asking the State Police to investigate the incident. CBS News reached out to the Windsor Police Department, we did not hear back.

Nazario's attorney said he wanted to file the lawsuit to hold those two officers accountable and make sure these kinds of stops stop happening.

Christina Ruffini, CBS News, Washington.