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Residents address Windsor Town Council in first meeting since police incident came to light

Windsor Town Council meeting (April 13) 2.jpg
Windsor Town Council meeting (April 13).jpg
Army Officer Traffic Stop Lawsuit
Posted at 3:11 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:55:42-04

UPDATE: Windsor officials answered questions Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.

WINDSOR, Va. - It was a packed house at the Windsor Town Center Tuesday night as the Windsor town council met Tuesday for their first public meeting following the revelation of December's traffic stop involving Lt. Caron Nazario.

"The way I see it, it ain't right," one resident told town council members during the meeting.

"It concerns me that your two police officers acted in a manner that they're acting in lieu of what is taking place around the country," an Isle of Wight NAACP member told town council members.

Residents and activists voiced their concerns about what happened as state and local law enforcement were at the meeting. The town's mayor, Glyn Willis, encouraged people to speak during public comments.

One of the police officers involved in the incident has been fired. The town manager confirms to News 3 Joe Gutierrez was fired on Sunday, which is months after the incident, but after the video of the incident went viral. The other officer involved, Daniel Crocker, remains employed, according to the town manager.

The town manager also told News 3 Crocker had been out of the police academy for less than a year at the time of the incident, however it's unknown how long he's been employed at Windsor Police Dept.

Some called for support for the town, police and Crocker.

"We weren’t there; we don’t know the whole story," one resident said. "I do encourage you to support Officer Crocker."

Others had questions and called for Crocker's termination.

"It was a simple traffic stop, but yet the police officers got out of their cars with guns drawn," the Isle of Wight NAACP member said. "I don't understand why both officers were not fired."

Prior to the meeting, town officials have remained publicly quiet, outside of the town manager releasing statements. No town council members have responded to emails or phone calls from News 3.

However, after meeting in a closed session for nearly three hours Tuesday night, Mayor Willis said they're "eager and actively cooperating" with the Virginia State Police investigation and voiced their support for Windsor Police, the police chief and Officer Crocker.

“We as a council fully support the Windsor Police Department," Willis said.

In the fallout from the incident, the police department is facing new scrutiny. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has launched a patterns and practice investigation into the department.

"Is there a pattern or practice of misconduct either by these officers or the department as a whole? That's what we're looking into," said Herring.

Herring has requested information and documents from the department, including information on complaints from traffic stops over the last 10 years and the personnel files of the officers involved.

"What we saw in the videos of the traffic stop in Windsor was appalling, dangerous and unacceptable," he said.

On Monday night, members of the NAACP held a press conference demanding an investigation. They allege African Americans are disproportionately pulled over in Windsor and the surrounding area.

"This stretch of road has become a speed trap for many individuals as they travel through this stretch of small towns," said Brandon Randleman.

Herring says his office's investigation will be able to substantiate these claims if they're accurate. He's promising to be as transparent as possible in releasing the findings.

"This shouldn't have happened to Lt. Nazario. It shouldn't happen to anyone, and it shouldn't happen again," said Herring.

Before the meeting, News 3 reached out to the FBI Norfolk Field Office to see if the agency was planning to conduct any investigations related to the Windsor incident.

"The Norfolk FBI Field Office is aware of the situation regarding the traffic stop in Isle of Wight County and will review all available facts of the incident to determine what federal response is warranted," the office told us in a statement.