A US police officer who did not follow the proper policy when he pepper-sprayed and pointed his gun at an Army lieutenant has been dismissed from his job.
The town of Windsor in the US state of Virginia on Sunday requested an investigation by Virginia State Police into the December 2020 encounter in which two Windsor officers were accused of drawing their guns and pointing them at US Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario.
Mr Nazario was 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.
In a statement released on Sunday, Windsor officials said an internal investigation opened at the time into the use of force determined that department policy was not followed.
Officials said disciplinary action was taken and Mr Gutierrez has since been fired.
Both sides dispute what happened, but Mr Crocker wrote in a report that he believed Mr Nazario was “eluding police” and he considered it a “high-risk traffic stop”.
Attorney Jonathan Arthur told The Associated Press that Mr Nazario was not trying to elude the officer, but was trying to stop in a well-lit area.
Officials added that department-wide requirements for additional training were also implemented in January.
“The Town of Windsor prides itself in its small-town charm and the community-wide respect of its Police Department,” the statement said.
“Due to this, we are saddened for events like this to cast our community in a negative light.”
My statement on the encounter between Lieutenant Caron Nazario and two officers from the Windsor Police Department: pic.twitter.com/GcfL5YeIRm
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) April 11, 2021
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam called the December encounter “disturbing” in a tweet on Sunday, adding that he directed State Police to review what happened.
“Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable,” Mr Northam said.