A Virginia police officer has been fired, four months after an incident with a Black army officer. After Virginia opened an investigation into the incident earlier this month, officer Joe Gutierrez was fired.
Gutierrez was one of two officers accused of pepper-spraying and pointing their guns at the army second lieutenant, Caron Nazario. The officers were also accused of using a slang term that insinuated that Nazario was facing execution.
The officer recently filed a lawsuit, where he also alleged he was pushed to the ground. While the two sides are not in agreement on what happened, a video of the event went viral over the weekend. Since that video became public, there has been quite a bit of pushback against the Windsor police department.
Much of that pushback has to do with how long it took to deliver any punishment to either officer. For now, Gutierrez’s partner, Daniel Crocker is not facing any discipline.
One of the reasons the police officers claim they needed to draw their weapons is because Nazario was eluding the police. The Army officer said he was simply moving to a well-lit area.
“The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department,” a statement from the town 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.”
Why Did It Take So Long For The Virginia Police Officer To Be Fired?
While most celebrated some justice being done, social media users were confused why the officer wasn’t fired earlier.
Fired once the video went viral. https://t.co/3WuQBWzzcd
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) April 12, 2021
“A reminder that this grotesque incident happened in December,” President of the NAACP legal defense and education fund, Sherrily Ifill tweeted. “An internal investigation then concluded Dept policies weren’t followed. But this ofcr has only been fired now after the video went viral. We need the indep investigation to keep pulling the thread on this Dept.”
“The fact that a Virginia police officer wasn’t fired for abusing Lt. Nazario until AFTER the video went viral many months later shows how important social media is for accountability,” another user wrote.
Both Officers Should Be Fired
While some focused on how long it took for Gutierrez to be fired, others are outraged he’s the only one.
“The white officer pointing the gun in the ridiculous Windsor, VA traffic stop should be fired too<” one Twitter user posted. “There is no reason to point guns at anyone in a non-felony traffic stop. Was he a suspect in a violent crime? No. This was also excessive force.”
“Important to point out that this officer was fired after the bodycam video became public because of the civil lawsuit,” another tweeted. “Not after the traffic stop, which happened back in December.”
The state of Virginia did announce the launch of an independent investigation, which could lead to it taking more action against the police officers.