The Windsor Police Department has cut ties with Joe Gutierrez after he was captured on video pepper spraying unarmed U.S. Army Medic Caron Nazario during a traffic stop. The town stated that Gutierrez did not follow department policy when pulling over the uniformed, Black medic.
"The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department," the town of Windsor, Virginia stated.
"Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light. Rather than deflect criticism, we have addressed these matters with our personnel administratively, we are reaching out to community stakeholders to engage in dialogue, and commit ourselves to additional discussions in the future."
The incident in question took place on December 5 in Windsor, Virginia. Authorities reportedly attempted to pull Nazario for a traffic violation, so the medic pulled into a well-lit area near a gas station. When officers approached the vehicle, video shows that guns had been drawn before Nazario stepped out of the vehicle. At one point, he tells the crowd of officers that he is fearful of them.
"I'm honestly afraid to get out," he said.
"Yeah dude, you should be," the officer replies.
***The video below contains police violence, profane language and other obscene material***
As the encounter progresses, Nazario goes to great lengths to let the officers know that he is unarmed and would like to know what he is being pulled over for. However, officers are caught on video responding with pepper spray and kicks. Nazario adds that his dog is also choking on pepper spray in the backseat. The medic is ultimately handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a police vehicle.
"Why am I being treated like this? Why?" Nazario asks.
Further investigation revealed that Nazario was pulled over because he didn't have a permanent license plate. However, body camera footage shows that a temporary license plate is visible because Nazario had recently purchased a new car.
In response to this encounter, Nazario has filed a civil lawsuit against the officers involved.
"What prompted him to file is the need to stop this conduct," attorney Jonathan Arthur stated.
"The need to hold these two officers accountable and make sure they cannot do it again."
After the video was shared across social media platforms, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called the incident "disturbing." He has also invited Nazario to come meet with him to discuss the matter further.
"I am inviting Army medic Lieutenant Caron Nazario to meet soon—we must all continue the larger dialogue about reform in our country," the governor stated.
The Virginia State Police are also conducting an investigation into the matter.
Photo Credit: Getty Images