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Virginia officer accused of force in stop of a Black Army officer fired

WFLA News Channel 8

One of two police officers accused of pepper spraying and pointing their guns at a Black Army officer during a traffic stop has since been fired. The town of Windsor joined calls from election officials in requesting an investigation by Virginia State Police into the December 2020 encounter. Two Windsor officers are accused of drawing their guns, pointing them at U.S. Army second lieutenant Caron Nazario and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution.

Nazario, who is Black and Latino, was also pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground by the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, according to the lawsuit he filed earlier this month against them. 

The two sides in the case dispute what happened, but Crocker wrote in a report 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.

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. Departmentwide requirements for additional training were also implemented beginning in January.

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