Virginia governor requests investigation of ‘disturbing’ police incident

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday said he was asking the State Police to investigate a “disturbing” traffic stop incident in the town of Windsor involving an Army medic who is Black and Hispanic.

“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,” Northam said.

Second Lt. Caron Nazario filed a lawsuit earlier this month in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia over the incident, claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

Nazario’s vehicle was pulled over during the evening of Dec. 5, 2020, as he was driving home; he was in uniform at the time.

His lawsuit claims that two officers — Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez — drew their guns, pepper-sprayed him, knocked him to the ground, handcuffed him and threatened him with execution as he attempted to cooperate. Video footage of the incident taken from police footage has circulated widely in recent days.

Later Sunday, the Virginia State Police tweeted that an investigation had been launched: “#VSP Col. Gary Settle has been in contact today w/ @GovernorVA & #Windsor Police Chief Riddle. At the Chief’s request & Governor’s directive, #VSP is initiating a thorough & objective criminal investigation into the 12/5/20 traffic stop conducted by the Windsor police officers.”

The town of Windsor joined the call for an investigation, and also said that one of the officers, Gutierrez, has been fired. “The Town of Windsor has remained transparent about this event since the initial stop, and has openly provided documents and related video to attorneys for Lt. Nazario,” the town said in a statement.

Nazario’s lawsuit was first reported by the Virginian-Pilot. The publication was also one of the sources of the video footage that sparked intense reactions.

“I was horrified when I viewed the recently released video footage of the police treatment of Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army,” Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott tweeted Saturday. “This should have been a routine traffic stop and the video speaks for itself.”

Rep. Donald McEachin represents Windsor, a town of approximately 2,700 located in lightly populated Isle of Wight County. McEachin also tweeted his outrage.

“Lt. Caron Nazario was threatened, harassed, held at gun point, and pepper sprayed because he had the audacity to drive while Black. I am heartbroken for Lt. Nazario and demand that the law enforcement officers involved are held accountable,” he said.

In his statement Sunday afternoon, Northam said he was “inviting” Nazario to meet with him.

“We must all continue the larger dialogue about reform in our country,” Northam said.

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Sunday said he was asking the State Police to investigate a “disturbing” traffic stop incident in the town of Windsor involving an Army medic who is Black and Hispanic.

“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,” Northam said.

Second Lt. Caron Nazario filed a lawsuit earlier this month in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia over the incident, claiming his constitutional rights were violated.

Nazario’s vehicle was pulled over during the evening of Dec. 5, 2020, as he was driving home; he was in uniform at the time.

His lawsuit claims that two officers — Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez — drew their guns, pepper-sprayed him, knocked him to the ground, handcuffed him and threatened him with execution as he attempted to cooperate. Video footage of the incident taken from police footage has circulated widely in recent days.

Later Sunday, the Virginia State Police tweeted that an investigation had been launched: “#VSP Col. Gary Settle has been in contact today w/ @GovernorVA & #Windsor Police Chief Riddle. At the Chief’s request & Governor’s directive, #VSP is initiating a thorough & objective criminal investigation into the 12/5/20 traffic stop conducted by the Windsor police officers.”

The town of Windsor joined the call for an investigation, and also said that one of the officers, Gutierrez, has been fired. “The Town of Windsor has remained transparent about this event since the initial stop, and has openly provided documents and related video to attorneys for Lt. Nazario,” the town said in a statement.

Nazario’s lawsuit was first reported by the Virginian-Pilot. The publication was also one of the sources of the video footage that sparked intense reactions.

“I was horrified when I viewed the recently released video footage of the police treatment of Caron Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army,” Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott tweeted Saturday. “This should have been a routine traffic stop and the video speaks for itself.”

Rep. Donald McEachin represents Windsor, a town of approximately 2,700 located in lightly populated Isle of Wight County. McEachin also tweeted his outrage.

“Lt. Caron Nazario was threatened, harassed, held at gun point, and pepper sprayed because he had the audacity to drive while Black. I am heartbroken for Lt. Nazario and demand that the law enforcement officers involved are held accountable,” he said.

In his statement Sunday afternoon, Northam said he was “inviting” Nazario to meet with him.

“We must all continue the larger dialogue about reform in our country,” Northam said.

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