After a closed session, Windsor mayor delivers a statement on council’s behalf.
WINDSOR-The Windsor Town Council stands behind its police department and Officer Daniel Crocker. Mayor Glyn Willis delivered that statement during Tuesday night’s meeting, after hearing from residents and then holding a nearly three hour closed session.
“We as a council fully support the Windsor Police Department, and that’s including Chief Riddle and Officer Crocker,” Willis said.
Chief Riddle and the members of his department were absent Tuesday. None of them spoke or showed up. That didn’t go unnoticed, as local residents said they wanted to hear what the chief had to say.
Judith Dempsey is a 27-year Air Force veteran and more than 20-year resident of Windsor. She questioned why the chief wasn’t there to answer questions. She also said she was frustrated that Officer Joe Gutierrez, one of the two officers involved in the Dec. 5 traffic stop, wasn’t fired until this past Sunday.
“I’m hurt, Windsor,” Dempsey told the council. “The only reason he got fired is because the video is getting out.”
Other residents echoed her complaints.
“Why did it take so long to fire the officer when this took place in December?” Samantha Jackson asked the council.
On the other side of the argument, members of the Southern Central Isle of Wright Citizens Group spoke up for the officers involved. They supported the actions taken that night and called for the council to also give their support.
Council Gives Support
That support came from the council after they withdrew for a closed session. The group emerged to deliver a statement, read by Mayor Willis, endorsing the department. While other council members stayed quiet, Willis said that they are “eagerly and actively cooperating” with the current Virginia State Police investigation that has been ordered by Gov. Ralph Northam.
“We as council members are here to serve the town and we are looking forward to doing that in a way that helps people see the good parts about the town compared to the bad parts and the bad view that people have now,” Willis said.
What will that include? He said the town council plans to hold weekly work sessions to engage with the community. He also said body camera videos and all documents available under Freedom of Information requests will be posted on the town’s website.
What Happened December 5?
In December, two Windsor police officers pulled guns on U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario during a traffic stop. They pepper sprayed, kicked and pulled him out of his vehicle, before saying he was “fixin’ to ride the lightning.”
Windsor is a town of 2,626 people, located 29 miles west of Norfolk. On Dec. 5 around 6:34 p.m., Nazario passed through while returning home from Fort Lee, dressed in uniform and driving his recently purchased 2020 Chevy Tahoe. Nazario’s lawsuit states that the vehicle was so new the DMV hadn’t given him permanent plates yet.
Instead, Nazario had his “temporary plates taped to the inside of the rear window of the vehicle at the top and on the passenger side, visible from behind,” the lawsuit says. As Nazario drove through town, Windsor Police Officer Daniel Crocker got behind him. Minutes later, the officer turned on his emergency lights for a traffic stop. Later in his report, Crocker said he did it because Nazario had “no tags displayed”. Later in the report, Crocker admits that Nazario did have temporary tags, but he couldn’t see them at the time he pulled the man over.
Crocker’s fellow Windsor officer, Joe Gutierrez, also responded to the call. When Nazario pulled into the BP and turned off his vehicle, the officers got out of their vehicles with guns drawn. They ordered Nazario to put his hands up and out of the window, which he did.
In Dogwood’s earlier report, we walk through what happened during the traffic stop and the controversy it created.
Gutierrez was fired as a result of his actions during the traffic stop. Although, that did not take place until this past Sunday, once the body cam videos had gone viral.
What Happens Now?
Since the original incident, multiple investigations have been launched on the state level. First, Gov. Northam called for the Virginia State Police to look into how things were handled. Also, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Monday announced his Office of Civil Rights would look into the case.
“Attorney General Herring is deeply concerned about the traffic stop of 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement. “He believes that the manner in which the officers of the Windsor Police Department (WPD) conducted themselves was dangerous, unnecessary, unacceptable and avoidable.”
Herring took another step, asking for nine types of records from the department. They include:
- Any records or other documentation the Windsor Police Department has created regarding the incident that occurred between the officers and 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario on December 5, 2020
- Personnel records for the two WPD officers – Officer Joe Gutierrez and Officer Daniel Crocker – involved in the December 5, 2020 traffic stop
- All WPD policies related to use of force
- WPD policies related to traffic stops
- Any WPD policies related to de-escalation and engaging with members of the public
- WPD training programs and/or materials for the last ten years related to any of the aforementioned policies
- All complaints received by the WPD related to use of force for the last 10 years
- Any complaints received by the WPD related to traffic stops for the last 10 years, including, but not limited to stops where a person was detained
- Complaints received by the WPD for the last 10 years related to treatment on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin
In press release statements delivered Monday, town officials said they were working to meet the requests from VSP and Herring’s office.
“Numerous requested documents have been provided,” the town’s statement said. “Our goal is to always ensure transparency of our practices and procedures; we will provide information as possible, and as allowed, during the investigation.”