Two Windsor police officers were recorded to have sprayed a Black and Latino US Army Medical Corps lieutenant after stopping him at the traffic back in December. Lt. Caron Nazario was forced and pushed on the ground under a high-risk traffic stop after he was sprayed with pepper.
Windsor, a small town located in the west of Norfolk, "prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department," according to town manager William Saunders.
On late Sunday, the officer who used chemical agent to temporarily blind the lieutenant had been fired, Virginal officials announced.
Windsor Police / Reuters
The incident on Dec. 5, 2020 had gone viral and Saunders is concerned with how this had "cast our community in a negative light." In an effort to improve their service, training has been announced across the department.
Saunders added, "Rather than deflect criticism, we have addressed these matters with our personnel administratively."
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam calls this a 'disturbing' event.
My statement on the encounter between Lieutenant Caron Nazario and two officers from the Windsor Police Department: pic.twitter.com/GcfL5YeIRm— Governor Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 11, 2021
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has also reacted, dubbing the incident “Unacceptable.”
Incidents like this are unacceptable. As our office continues to monitor the situation, the Windsor Police Department needs to be fully transparent about what happened during the stop and what was done in response to it.pic.twitter.com/YXVEGUWMeh— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) April 10, 2021
An independent investigation was opened hours before the police officer's firing was officially announced. Northam later invited the involved black lieutenant, Nazario, to talk.
Northam announced, "Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure that Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable."
Nazario had his license plates tapped temporarily to his rear window because his Chevrolet Tahoe was a fresh new car.
Inadvertently, he was asked to pull over, and he complied by opening his signals. He didn't stop until he found a well-lit, safer place about a mile away. But when they reached the location, the officers were pointing their weapons at him as he prepared his phone to record the situation.
The bodycam shows Nazario who is on active-duty repeatedly asking, "Why am I being treated like this?"
Nazario sued officer Daniel Crocker and officer Joe Gutierrez for unreasonable seizure, illegal search, and excessive force.