Amid Minnesota’s decent back into chaos and a New Mexico State trooper executed in cold blood, the world also focuses its attention on Windsor, Va. Located just inland from Newport News, an area crawling with U.S. military, an interaction between a soldier and police exploded into a viral sensation. Critics claim it shows more police brutality toward a Black man. Others counter that Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario acted suspiciously and ignored numerous commands before Officer Joe Gutierrez pepper sprayed the suspect.
Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario Pepper-Sprayed During Traffic Stop
But Nazario filmed the interaction with police. Officers use rough language as the video goes on. Meanwhile, Nazario carries a gun, and officers eventually use less lethal force. At the end of the day, everyone went home safe. Now the department faces further investigation on potential patterns of misconduct, Gutierrez is out of a job, and Nazario is suing for damages.
“The town of Windsor prides itself on its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department,” said a town press release, reported The New York Times. “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.”
Left-leaning critics exploded with anger as the video gained traction on social media. Now Virginia’s Democrat, and extremely anti-gun Governor, Ralph Northam, called for Virginia State Police to conduct its own investigation.
“The incident in Windsor is disturbing and angered me — and I am directing the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation,” Mr. Northam said, reported The New York Times. “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.”
Caron Nazario Body Cam Footage Raises Questions
But the body cam footage and quick dismissal failed to satisfy every expert. Conservative media personality Brandon Tatum saw something different. Tatum, a former college football player, related to the great NFL Hall of Fame player Jack Tatum, pursued a career in law enforcement following his football career. Tatum served with the Tucson, Ariz., Police Department until 2017.
“This gentleman, who is an active duty military personnel, obviously a 2nd lieutenant in the military. He’s a leader in the military. His rank is higher than these police officers are ranked, when you look at a lieutenant versus a patrol officer. And he, in my personal opinion, knew better than what he was doing and his actions led to the police interaction that he had, and it resulted in him not losing his life, which is a positive thing.”
Tatum put the entire traffic stop into context, from a law enforcement officer’s eyes. Officers pulled over the suspect for improper tag display. According to Tatum, Nazario then drove a mile and a half before finally pulling over. Those choices turned the traffic stop into a high-risk stop. Nazario’s actions prompted guns drawn from the jump.
Tatum then breaks down the sheer volume of times Gutierrez shouted commands. “Get out of the car.” “Show your hands.” The commands come again and again. Meanwhile, Nazario sets his phone up to video the scene.
“While he’s giving these commands, this gentleman is setting his phone up, in my personal opinion, to be a martyr,” Tatum says. “He done set his phone up, but not listening to commands. … He still don’t put his hands out the window! One hand is out, the other one is sitting right here on the thing. Look at the smug on his face.”