One of two police officers accused of pepper-spraying and pointing their guns at Caron Nazario, a Black Army officer during a traffic stop last year has been fired, a Virginia town announced Sunday, hours after the governor called for an independent investigation into the case.
Nazario, who is Black and Latino, was pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground by officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, according to the lawsuit.
In the statement Sunday, 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.
Officials added that departmentwide requirements for additional training were also implemented beginning in January.
“The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department,” the statement said. “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 statement came hours after Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the state police to conduct an independent investigation into the incident involving two officers.
“The incident in Windsor is disturbing and angered me – and I am directing the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent investigation,” Northam wrote in a statement.
“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,” he added.