Updated Apr 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia governor orders probe into pepper-spraying of Army officer

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam talks about how he was raised during an interview in the Governor's Mansion February 09, 2019 in Richmond, VA.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam at the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, Va. in 2019. Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday he's directed the state police to conduct an independent investigation after video emerged showing two officers pepper-spraying and drawing guns on a U.S. Army lieutenant during a traffic stop.

Driving the news: Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, is suing the police officers over the Dec. 5, 2020, incident. One of the officers involved, Joe Gutierrez, was fired Sunday.

What they're saying: Northam said in a statement he found the footage "disturbing" and that it angered him.

  • "Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure that Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable," Northam said.
  • "We must all continue the larger dialogue about [policing] reform in our country."

Of note: The Town of Windsor said in a statement late Sunday that officials found Windsor Police Department policy was not followed during the stop involving officers Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.

What to watch: Northam added that he had invited Army medic Nazario to meet with him.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of Gutierrez's firing.

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