Windsor residents express concern with town’s handling of viral traffic stop incident

Virginia News

ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WRIC) — The Windsor Town Council met tonight — their first meeting since the video of officers pepper spraying and drawing guns on Virginia National Guard Lieutenant Caron Nazario during a traffic stop began circulating.

Citizens flocked to the meeting to express frustration with how the town is handling the incident. There were some others in the room who gave support for the officer’s actions during the traffic stop.

The treatment of the lieutenant during the traffic stop has prompted a $1 million federal lawsuit against the two officers and a Virginia State Police investigation. Attorney General Mark Herring has also begun requesting documents from the Windsor Police Department to investigate.

The Windsor Town Center, where the council met, had community members spread out for social distancing. However, there was also another feeling of division.

Most people who spoke during the meeting’s public comment period questioned why it took four months for the Dec. 5 body camera video to be released and why Joe Gutierrez, one of the officers involved, was not fired until this past Sunday.

Town council members did not answer any questions during the meeting. Afterwards, Town Manager William Saunders would not say why Gutierrez wasn’t fired until this past Sunday, adding that “more will be released soon.” 

JaPharii Jones of Black Lives Matter 757 does not believe the firing of Gutierrez is enough. He called for the officer to be arrested and drug tested for steroids.

Many citizens also called for Daniel Crocker, the second officer involved, to be fired.

However, some came to the meeting to show support for the still employed officer, Daniel Crocker, and the the police department.

Notably missing from the meeting was Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle and other members of the department. An Air Force veteran at the meeting asked why the police department was not there to answer questions. She said the incident made her “ashamed of a town that [she] grew to love.”

Valerie Butler, president of the NAACP Isle of Wight Branch, called the town out on its claims of wanting to ensure transparency, accusing the town of sweeping the issue under the rug.

A representative from another group, the Southern and Central Isle of Wight Citizens Group, said they agree with and support the actions taken by the town in regards to the incident.

Butler followed that statement by saying, “I cannot understand how an organization can condone the actions that we’ve seen from that video.”

After public comment, the town council went into closed session for several hours. When they returned, Mayor Glyn Willis made a statement.

“We as a council fully support the Windsor Police Department, and that’s including Chief Riddle and Officer Crocker,” Willis said.

The mayor also said the town is “eager and actively cooperating” with the VSP investigation. He added that the town council is planning weekly work sessions to better engage with the community, and said body camera videos and Freedom of Information Act documents will be posted on the town’s website.

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