Virginia police officer Joe Gutierrez is fired after ‘threatening to execute’ soldier Caron Nazario during traffic stop

ONE of the cops involved in a controversial traffic stop where two officers drew their guns, threatened and pepper-sprayed a mixed-raced soldier has been fired, officials announced Sunday.

Windsor Police Officer Joe Gutierrez has been "terminated from his employment" following an internal probe into the arrest of Caron Nazario, after footage of the December incident was released earlier this week.

The dismissal of Gutierrez was first revealed in a press release from the Town of Windsor on Sunday night.

"The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department. Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light," the statement read.

"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."

Officials did not state if the second officer involved in the arrest, Daniel Cocker, has faced – or will face – any disciplinary actions.

Earlier this month, Nazario, a second lieutenant in the US Army, filed a lawsuit accusing Guitierrez and Crocker of using excessive force during the December 5 traffic stop.

According to the suit, the officers drew their guns and pointed them at Nazario, made a Green Mile reference that suggested execution, pepper-sprayed him and knocked him to the ground.

Shocking body camera footage shows Nazario, who is black and Latino, holding both of his hands up and telling Windsor Police Department officers he was "honestly afraid to get out" of his car.

"Yea, you should be," one of the officers, Joe Gutierrez, replies.

Before the stop, Crocker radioed that he was attempting to pull Nazario over because he did not have a rear license plate and was driving with tinted windows.

Crocker said the driver was "eluding police."

The lawsuit states that Nazario drove for one minute and 40 seconds to pull over in a "well-lit area" for the police officers.

Gutierrez joined the stop after his colleague referred to the incident as a "high-risk traffic stop."

The lawsuit said that by the time the officers had Nazario pulled over, his license plate was visible in the rear window of his new SUV.

Bodycam footage shows the soldier clearly wearing his uniform and sticking his two hands out the window of the vehicle.

The two officers can be seen immediately pulling out their guns and pointing them at Nazario before attempting to pull him from the vehicle.

At one point, Nazario said he was afraid to put his hands down to take off his seatbelt.

The officers pepper-sprayed him multiple times before he got out of the car.

At one point, Officer Gutierrez tells Nazario he was "fixin' to ride the lightening," a reference from the movie The Green Mile, which is about a black man facing the death penalty.

"This is a colloquial expression for an execution, originating from glib reference to execution by the electric chair," the suit against the officers says.

When Nazario was eventually removed from the car, he repeatedly asked for a supervisor.

Gutierrez then hit him with "knee-strikes" to the legs, according to the suit.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, says that Nazario's Constitutional rights were violated, with his lawyer calling the incident a racially-biased violation of justice.

Despite being pepper-sprayed, beaten and hand-cuffed in the incident, Nazario was not charged.

In an incident report, Gutierrez reportedly wrote that he "did not want to see" Nazario's military career "ruined over one erroneous decision."

Over the weekend, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called for an independent investigation to be conduction into the "disturbing" arrest.

"Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable," he said in a statement.

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