The FBI confirmed Thursday they have joined in the investigation of a December traffic stop in Windsor in which an Army lieutenant was pepper sprayed by one of the town’s police officers.
“The Norfolk FBI Field Office is aware of the situation regarding the traffic stop in Isle of Wight County and will review all available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted.” Christina Pullen, a spokeswoman for the office, said in a brief statement emailed to The Pilot.
Pullen said she could not offer any more information.
Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle said during a press conference Wednesday the federal government was among the agencies looking into the incident.
On Sunday, Gov. Ralph Northam directed state police to investigate the Dec. 5, 2020, traffic stop involving Army Lt. Caron Nazario on U.S. Route 460. The following day, Attorney General Mark Herring announced he had asked the Windsor Police Department to provide all use-of-force records for the past 10 years.
State police on Wednesday asked that anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or had cellphone video of it, to contact them at email@example.com.
Also on Wednesday, the president of the NAACP’s Isle of Wight County chapter called for the town’s police chief to resign.
“After watching the press conference held by officials in the Town of Windsor regarding the incident involving Lt. Nazario, we are appalled at some of the statements made by the Town officials as well as the Chief of Police,” President Valerie Butler wrote on the organization’s Facebook page. “Therefore we are calling for the immediate resignation of Chief Rodney Riddle.”
Nazario, 27, was driving home in a new Chevrolet Tahoe when two Windsor police officers pulled him over, according to a federal lawsuit he filed against the officers earlier this month. Nazario, who is Black and Latino, claims the officers assaulted him and violated his constitutional rights. He is seeking more than $1 million in damages.
The lawsuit states that when Nazario saw an officer signal for him to pull over, he slowed down but continued to drive for nearly a mile so he could stop at a well-lit spot.
Officer Daniel Crocker radioed he was pulling the vehicle over because it didn’t have a rear license plate and had tinted windows. He also said the driver was eluding him and he considered it a high-risk stop.
Officer Joe Gutierrez heard Crocker’s call and joined him. Nazario’s lawsuit states that a temporary tag was displayed in his rear window and can be seen on body cam video.
The two officers immediately drew their guns, pointed them at Nazario and shouted conflicting orders at him, police body cam video shows.
When Nazario told the officers he was afraid to get out, Gutierrez pepper sprayed him and then forced him to the ground once he was out of the vehicle. Nazario eventually was released without any charges being filed.
This article is written by Jane Harper from The Virginian-Pilot and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.