Army officer pepper-sprayed during Virginia traffic stop speaks publicly about the incident

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WAVY) – The Army officer involved in that controversial traffic stop in Virginia is speaking publicly about his experience for the first time since the encounter.

“This has truly been a challenging experience and also a lifechanging experience, not just for me, but for my family,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario.

The traffic stop happened back in December but gained national interest this month after video surfaced and then went viral.

Officer Daniel Crocker initiated the traffic stop after saying he didn’t see a visible rear license plate on Nazario’s SUV. A temporary tag displayed in a tinted rear window.

Crocker classified the stop as “high risk” after Nazario, who is Black and Latino and was wearing his service uniform, didn’t immediately pull over. Crocker said Nazario was “eluding police” and his SUV’s window tint prevented officers from seeing inside. Nazario later told officers he wanted to pull over in a well-lit area.

By the time Nazario stopped into a BP gas station, a second officer, Joe Gutierrez, had also arrived in his cruiser behind Crocker.

Both Crocker and Gutierrez proceeded to get out of their cars, draw their guns and yell for Nazario to put his hands out the window and get out of the car.

When Nazario did not immediately comply with orders, Gutierrez approached Nazario’s open driver’s side window and dispensed OC spray multiple times into Nazario’s face.

WAVY’s sister station in New York City was there as the Brooklyn Borough president honored Nazario with a special proclamation this week.

Surrounded by family, he said he couldn’t say much due to his ongoing lawsuit against the two Windsor police officers involved, but said it’s been a challenging time for him and his family.

Nazario grew up in Brooklyn.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of love and support from around the world. So I would like to say thank you to my home community Bedford Stuyvesant, all of Brooklyn, everyone around the world,” he said on Wednesday.

Brooklyn community leaders said Nazario is a respectful young man and it’s his discipline that kept the situation from a deadly outcome.

One of the officers involved in the incident has been fired.

On the same day as the proclamation in New York, the Isle of Wight NAACP chapter met with town leaders in Windsor and called on the resignations or terminations of the other officer and Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle.

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