Army officer’s legal team slams police response as chief refuses apology

"I don't believe so," was Riddle’s response to reporters when asked if Nazario deserves an apology

Attorneys for the Black Army officer who was harassed by Virginia police during a traffic stop in December are speaking out about the incident, specifically the cops’ behavior.

Attorneys for 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, the Black man who was inappropriately pepper-sprayed by the officers, criticized the police chief after he refused to apologize, per NBC News. Police Chief Rodney Riddle spoke about the incident for the first time on Wednesday.

“I don’t believe so,” was Riddle’s response to reporters when asked if Nazario deserves an apology.

“The statements from the Police Chief of Windsor today demonstrate the systemic policing issues that generate civil rights violations across the country,” said Nazario’s attorneys in a statement on Wednesday.

Read More: Army sergeant pushes Black man, demands he leave neighborhood in viral video

“I wish he would have complied a whole lot earlier,” said Riddle in regards to Nazario. “I’m going to own what we did wrong. I can’t speak for him, but I’m going to own what we did. My guys missed opportunities to verbally de-escalate that thing and change that outcome.”

Nazario was driving a newly purchased Chevrolet Tahoe when he was pulled over on U.S. Highway 460 by police in Windsor. Nazario continued to drive once he saw that police wanted him to pull over because he wanted the encounter to be in a well-lit area. He drove with his emergency lights on and continued for 100 seconds, under the speed limit, until he made it to a gas station nearby.

Irritated officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker aggressively approached Nazario, who was in uniform. They drew their guns and accused Nazario of driving without plates despite the new vehicle tag in the SUV’s rear window. A bodycam video of the incident revealed Nazario being pepper-sprayed several times.

“What’s going on? You’re fixin’ to ride the lighting, son,” said Gutierrez, per the lawsuit filed and video footage.

Nazario told the officers he was afraid to get out of his car. Gutierrez responded, “Yeah, you should be!”

“This is a colloquial expression for an execution, originating from glib reference to execution by the electric chair,” wrote Jonathan Arthur, Nazario’s attorney in the lawsuit.

Image via Getty/The Washington Post

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According to reports, Gutierrez was fired on Tuesday. Crocker was still in training when the incident occurred.

“We got to a point Sunday where I lost faith in his ability to continue to serve the community to the standards that we expect it to be,” said Riddle.

In regards to Crocker, he said, “I’ve known Daniel since he was 14. He’s a lifelong resident of the town of Windsor. He wants to serve his community, and there’s little to no doubt in my mind with some more training and experience, he’ll continue to serve this community well.”

The lawsuit adds that during the encounter, officers advised the army officer not to complain. “Chill and let this go,” they said.

Nazario’s attorneys are accusing Riddle of “cutting-corner policing” and “victim blaming.”

“The Chief says he is glad that no one got hurt,” said Arthur in a statement. “OC [pepper] spray hurts. Being threatened with ‘riding the lightning’ hurts. Being told you should be afraid to follow police commands hurts.”

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