WINDSOR, Va. - Wednesday, Windsor Police Chief Rodney Riddle spoke publicly for the first time of the traffic stop from this past December involving WPD officers Daniel Crocker and Joe Gutierrez and Army Lt. Caron Nazario.
“We missed some opportunities,” Riddle said.
Recently, the encounter has got attention in Hampton Roads and around the country.
“Those officers, initially, reacted relatively well, in my opinion,” Riddle said. “What they missed, though, was the opportunities to verbally de-escalate the situation.”
Riddle stated three days after the December 5 encounter happened, an internal investigation launched and took place through January 28.
He added disciplinary action was taken, but after the video surfaced publicly recently, Gutierrez was fired this past Sunday.
“As this thing kind of gathered legs and became viral, I personally felt there was no way he could effectively serve our community anymore at that point,” Riddle said.
Nazario’s attorney, Jonathan Arthur, called the move “exceptionally disappointing.”
“It wasn't the fact that the video went viral that meant that the officer was no longer capable of serving the community. It was the officer's actions themselves,” Arthur told News 3. “We do appreciate the fact that the chief has recognized that things could've gone different.”
When asked whether Nazario is owed an apology, Riddle said no.
“I'm glad that he's okay,” he said. “That situation ended in the best way it could've. I wish he would've complied a whole lot earlier.”
“We do find it very problematic that it appears that instead of admitting full responsibility and issuing an apology, the chief of police and the Town of Windsor have continued the victim-blaming narrative that my client did not comply,” Arthur said. “We believe that's patently contradicted by the evidence.”
“I think that the town, as well as the police department, owes that young man an apology,” Isle of Wight NAACP President Valerie Butler said.
Butler told News 3 she still has questions after the chief’s Wednesday briefing.
“What were the disciplinary actions, and what made him change his mind?” Butler said in reference to the internal investigation and decision to terminate Gutierrez from the department.
She believes both officers should be let go.
“I felt like the police officers escalated it, contrary to what Chief Riddle said,” she said. “Once they approached this young man and saw that he was in uniform, that in itself should've de-escalated things.”
But Riddle sees it a different way.
“You'll see there's several times in the video where Officer Crocker makes an effort to de-escalate that situation verbally,” he said.
“My client was cool, calm and collected,” Arthur told News 3. “If anyone needed to be de-escalated, it was Joe Gutierrez. And Daniel Crocker failed to address that.”
Riddle said he's looking ahead.
“We've got work to do. We know we've got work to do,” Riddle said. “There's been some damage to our relationships with the community here, and we've got to get back on track.”
News 3 reached out to Windsor town officials about the call for Chief Riddle's resignation Wednesday but did not hear back.