Virginia town fires officer over Caron Nazario incident -- five months later

Virginia town fires officer over Caron Nazario incident -- five months later

I’m making an assumption with my headline, as the town’s statement was very cagey indeed in specifying when, exactly, Officer Joe Gutierrez was fired for how he handled Nazario’s now-famous detainment.

Was Gutierrez fired this week, when Nazario filed his lawsuit against the department and the bodycam video of the encounter went viral? Or was he fired months ago and the department just sort of kept that information to itself until the media attention to Nazario’s case led them to reveal it? Quote: “On Wednesday, Town Manager William G. Saunders told The Virginian-Pilot in an email that officers Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, the other officer involved in the traffic stop, were still employed by the police department.”

So, as five days ago Gutierrez was still working there and as of today he isn’t. The local PD had the footage from the incident for five months, but not until Nazario decided to go to court and embarrass them publicly did they decide that Gutierrez’s conduct was a firing offense.

If he wasn’t already terminated before the governor weighed in, this tweet must have cinched it:

Virginia state cops are now investigating the encounter, which ended with Nazario being let go without charges — although his lawsuit alleges that cops threatened to charge him unless he agreed not to file a complaint about how they handed the traffic stop. Crocker hasn’t been fired yet, possibly because he didn’t threaten Nazario (as far as I recall) the way Gutierrez did. As for the latter, Nazario’s lawyer wants to make sure that he loses more than his job: “[W]e have no reason to believe that Gutierrez has been decertified—meaning he could go down the road and get hired at another department to continue to run roughshod over the rights of others.”

There’s a certain kind of person who’ll watch footage of any incident in which cops have behaved aggressively towards a citizen and strain for ways to blame the civilian for their belligerence. Sometimes those people even have TV shows:

Kelly’s been on a two-day rant on Twitter about how this is supposedly all Nazario’s fault, and every last word of it is nonsense. Watch the clip if you haven’t yet and you’ll see that “swagger” is the last word you’d use to describe his behavior. He’s so terrified that he’s about to be shot by a cop who’s hulking out that he seems ready to piss himself. It wasn’t Nazario who was confrontational either; the cops had their guns out before they even approached his vehicle. And it wasn’t Nazario, who never so much as raised his voice, who showed “arrogance.” That was Gutierrez, who warned him that he should be afraid and that he was at risk of “riding the lightning,” i.e. being tased, before he and Nazario had exchanged more than a few words.

Kelly’s tweet about Nazario’s gun is his most obnoxious point, though. Steven Gutowski, one of righty media’s most knowledgeable writers about firearms and a staunch Second Amendment advocate, saw Kelly’s tweet and was aghast:

Here’s the relevant regulatory language authorizing people to carry a gun in a compartment in their car without a permit — although Nazario did have a concealed-carry permit, according to Windsor’s own police report. Even if he didn’t and hadn’t stored the gun in a compartment, it’s immaterial to the incident that played out. The cops had no reason to think he had a gun in the car, Nazario didn’t threaten them in any way or even mention the gun until afterward, and so its presence played no role in justifying their behavior. We’re left to wonder why a populist conservative, who’d normally support Second Amendment rights, would lunge at the fact that a serviceman had a perfectly legal firearm in his car as an excuse for the police treating him the way they did. What’s the answer?

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John Stossel 12:01 AM on June 09, 2023