WINDSOR, Va. - The Windsor police officer fired after a now viral traffic stop didn’t lose his job until this past Sunday according to Windsor’s town manager.
That news prompting even more outrage from citizens at a town council meeting Tuesday night.
The traffic stop, where two officers pulled their guns on a Black Army Lieutenant and one pepper sprayed him, happened in December, but only went public after a news report last week.
"I hurt Windsor!" said Judith Dempsey, during public comment. "And then you guys wait until Sunday to fire that man after what he did? And where’s the other one, still on the payroll? Come on Windsor."
Dempsey, an Air Force veteran who is Black, said she’s lived in Windsor for 20 years. She told the council that what happened to Lt. Caron Nazario made her ashamed of a town she’s grown to love.
Town leaders refused to speak on camera until they met in executive session following the public meeting to discuss what happened.
Town manager William Saunders confirmed to FOX 5 that Gutierrez was fired Sunday, but wouldn’t talk about timing or who made the decision. He said the other officer involved, Daniel Crocker, has been on the police force for less than a year. Crocker remains employed.
Saunders wouldn’t say when he learned about the traffic stop, but said it was before the news reports. The town has said an internal investigation began "immediately" after the incident and determined that policy wasn’t followed.
The only reason the story came out was because a reporter with the Virginian-Pilot was checking court records and found the lawsuit filed by Nazario.
"If this had not occurred, would the town of Windsor have brought this to our attention?" asked Isle of Wight NAACP President Valerie Butler. "So the town of Windsor says they want to be transparent, but you swept this situation under the rug."
Police Chief Rodney ‘Dan’ Riddle was scheduled to give a report at the meeting, but it didn’t happen.
"I know half the police department, but is there anybody here tonight to answer any of our questions?" asked Dempsey.
Virginia state police has launched an internal investigation in the incident and Virginia’s attorney general says his office of civil rights is now investigating the Windsor police department to see if there’s a pattern of misconduct.
Windsor, a town that spans four square miles, has a population of about 2,700 and a police department with fewer than 10 officers.
During the December traffic stop, Officer Crocker reported he tried to stop Nazario when he thought he didn’t have license plates displayed.
Nazario, who was driving a new car with temporary tags displayed, drove for less than a mile so he could pull over at a well lit gas station, according to the lawsuit he filed.
The situation quickly escalated with officers drawing their guns and Gutierrez asking Nazario if he was "fixin to ride the lightning," before pepper spraying him when Nazario refused to get out of the car.
In a tweet Monday, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston wrote:
"Like many of you, I was concerned by the video of LT Nazario’s traffic stop in December. He represented himself and our Army well through his calm, professional response to the situation – I’m very proud of him."