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Windsor Police Chief Says Officer Should Have Deescalated Situation With Nazario

Police officer
In this image made from Windsor Police video, recently fired officer Joe Gutierrez uses a spray agent on Caron Nazario on Dec. 20, 2020. Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, is suing two Virginia police officers over a traffic stop during which he says the officers drew their guns and pointed them at him as he was dressed in uniform. (Windsor Police via AP)

Earlier today, Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle addressed the traffic stop of 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario last December. Nazario, who is Black and Latino, has sued the department.

The officers, Daniel Crocker and now-fired Joe Guttierezz, said they stopped Nazario because they couldn’t see his license plate, but video footage shows a temporary tag in the window.  Nazario waited to pull over until he reached a well-lit gas station, where the officers drew their guns. Guttierez threatened and pepper-sprayed Nazario before knocking him to the ground.

Chief Riddle says he wished Nazario had complied earlier.

The footage, which went viral, also depicts officer Joe Gutierrez telling Nazario he was going to “ride the lighting.” According to the Tidewater News, Gutierrez was fired Sunday, four months after the stop, for violating departmental policies.

Riddle tried to clarify Gutierrez’s comments today, claiming he was referring to being tased, not execution by electric chair.

Riddle also defended the second officer, Daniel Crocker, a recent police academy graduate who was shadowing Gutierrez, and said both officers displayed appropriate conduct at the start of the incident.

“They came out with firearms,” Riddle said. “Officer Gutierrez transferred to his taser, then eventually to his pepper spray and they went hands-on. What they missed, though, was the opportunities to verbally de-escalate that situation.”

But Riddle said Crocker did try to verbally de-escalate, which is why he’s still employed.

Although Riddle said he wanted to “own what we did wrong,” he also said he thought Nazario could have “complied a whole lot earlier.”

Riddle defended his department based on the outcome, saying, “That situation ended in the best way it could have.”

Attorney General Mark Herring’s office is reviewing the department for possible patterns of misconduct. Riddle says the FBI has joined the Virginia State Police in their investigation of the incident as well.

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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