The Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army is the latest leader to respond to the viral traffic stop that led to an Army lieutenant being pepper sprayed in Windsor in December.
In a Twitter thread Monday, SMA Michael Grinston said he was "concerned" by the video of the incident, which has garnered national attention. He commended Army Lt. Caron Nazario for his "calm, professional response to the situation" and said Nazario represented the Army well.
He said while he "cannot comment on ongoing litigation," he's been assured that Nazario's leadership is giving him the support he needs.
Like many of you, I was concerned by the video of LT Nazario’s traffic stop in December. He represented himself and our Army well through his calm, professional response to the situation – I’m very proud of him.— SMA Michael Grinston (@16thSMA) April 12, 2021
I cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but I’ve been assured he is receiving the support from his leadership he needs during this time.— SMA Michael Grinston (@16thSMA) April 12, 2021
Situations like this are what I want Soldiers to discuss. This is the reality that some of our Soldiers still face. As a Leader, you should know that and be willing to have conversations about how events like this impact your teams.— SMA Michael Grinston (@16thSMA) April 12, 2021
In the December 5 traffic stop that has garnered national attention, Nazario led police to a well-lit area before his encounter with police that led to him being pepper sprayed. Police say Nazario was pulled over because he reportedly didn't have a rear license plate displayed.
One of the officers involved in the incident, Officer Joe Gutierrez, has since been fired. Officials did not state if the other officer involved in the incident, Officer Daniel Crocker, faced any disciplinary action, but they said officers have undergone additional training since the incident.
Nazario is suing the officers.
In a press conference held Monday, the Isle of Wight NAACP called for a proper investigation and a plan of action in response to the incident. They're also calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to call a special session so lawmakers can pass a bill ending qualified immunity.