The Virginia police officer who was filmed pepper-spraying a uniformed Black Army officer after holding him at gunpoint has been fired
Officer Joe Gutierrez (left) sees Lt. Caron Nazario during a traffic obstruction with pepper spray. Windsor Police via AP
Lt. Caron Nazario sued Virginia police for assaulting him during a traffic obstruction last year.
The officer who sprayed Nazario with pepper spray after holding him at gunpoint has now been released, officials said on Sunday.
The Virginia governor has also ordered an independent investigation into the incident.
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The policeman in the middle of a video showing a uniformed Black Army officer held at gunpoint and sprayed with pepper spray during a traffic obstruction has been released, officials said on Sunday.
The traffic obstruction occurred on December 5, 2020 and gained attention that month after Lt. Caron Nazario had filed a lawsuit against two Windsor, Virginia police officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.
In the lawsuit, Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Black and Latino, argued that his constitutional rights under the First and Fourth Amendments were violated by the officers seen in Bodycam footage yelling at him to get out of his vehicle. They pointed their guns at him, sprayed him with pepper and threw him to the ground.
Check out the moment here:
In the video, Nazario is heard saying he was "genuinely afraid" of getting out of his car, to which Gutierrez said, "Yes, it should be you." The officer is then seen spraying Nazario with pepper spray after Gutierrez tried not to open the officer's driver's door.
While the city administrator told The Virginian Pilot on Thursday that the two officers were still employed by the police, a statement from the city on Sunday stated that Gutierrez had been released "since that time".
It is not clear whether Gutierrez was fired as a direct result of Nazario's lawsuit. Insider has contacted the Windsor Police Department for clarification.
Nazario is seen after he was handcuffed on December 5, 2020. He is suing the two police officers for violating his constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has ordered the Virginia State Police to conduct an independent traffic obstruction investigation. The City of Windsor welcomed the plan.
In a tweet, the governor said he found the incident "disturbing" and that it "annoyed" him. He said he planned to meet with Nazario soon.
The Nazario lawsuit comes at a time when more attention is being paid to the use of force by police and the treatment of black men by law enforcement after the death of George Floyd last year.
Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on the back of Floyd's neck a few minutes before his death, is currently on trial on charges of second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
Floyd's death sparked national protests last year, and some of the protests in Minneapolis turned violent.
Troubles broke out again in Minneapolis on Sunday evening after it was revealed that a 20-year-old black man was fatally shot and killed during a traffic obstruction in the nearby city of Brooklyn Center.
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