Police officer fired after pepper-spraying Black US army officer

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One of two police officers accused of pepper-spraying and pointing their guns at a Black US army officer during a traffic stop has since been fired, authorities in Virginia have said.

Two officers from the town of Windsor are accused of drawing their guns, pointing them at US Army second lieutenant Caron Nazario and using a slang term to suggest he was facing execution.

Town authorities said in a statement they were joining calls from election officials, including governor Ralph Northam, to request an investigation by Virginia State Police into the December 2020 encounter.

Army Officer Traffic Stop Lawsuit
Caron Nazario was pepper-sprayed during the incident in December (Windsor Police/AP)

Nazario was also pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground by the officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, according to the lawsuit he filed earlier this month against them.

The two sides in the case dispute what happened, but Crocker wrote in a report that he believed Nazario was “eluding police” and he considered it a “high-risk traffic stop”.

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Attorney Jonathan Arthur told the Associated Press that Nazario was not trying to elude the officer, but was trying to stop in a well-lit area.

In the statement on Sunday, Windsor officials said an internal investigation opened at the time into the use of force determined that department policy was not followed.

Army Officer Traffic Stop Lawsuit
Nazario, a second lieutenant in the US Army, is suing two Virginia police officers over a traffic stop which he says violated his constitutional rights (Windsor Police/AP).

Officials said disciplinary action was taken and Gutierrez has since been fired.

Officials added that department-wide requirements for additional training were also implemented beginning in January.

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