WINDSOR, Va. - Windsor Police Chief Rodney “Dan” Riddle answered questions about a December traffic stop that has gone viral.
During December's traffic stop involving Lt. Caron Nazario, the video shows Nazario being pepper-sprayed and threatened. The Windsor Police officers involved were Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker.
Lt. Nazario is now suing the officers over the traffic stop, during which the officers drew their guns, pointed them at him and used a slang term to suggest he was facing execution, according to the lawsuit.
On April 11, officials said Officer Gutierrez was fired as a result of the incident.
The Wednesday press conference followed a meeting Tuesday night where the Windsor Town Center was packed. Town council met in their first public meeting following the revelation of the December traffic stop.
Chief Riddle addressed media questions during the press conference, and when addressing the officer's actions, he said, "They missed opportunities and it’s bad."
He explained the incident from the beginning, saying he thought the officers initially reacted relatively well. He said as the situation escalated the deescalation of force started.
Riddle said Officer Gutierrez transferred to his firearm, to his taser and eventually to his pepper sprayer. The chief added that what they missed, though, was a way to verbally deescalate that situation.
He went on to explain that when Nazario said he was afraid, an officer said, "You should be." Riddle said that was wrong and could have changed the outcome of that incident. He said it could have not gotten to the point that it did.
Riddle said, “Those things are intolerable. Yes, it upset me... at this point, it's upsetting the nation and the world."
Riddle also explained a timeline of events. He said the incident happened on December 5 and their internal investigation started on December 8 and concluded on January 28, which was when disciplinary action was taken. He did not go into what that disciplinary action was, citing it being a personnel issue.
Once the video became viral, Riddle said he felt there was no way Officer Gutierrez could serve the community at that point.
He said, "Bottom line is we're a small community, about 2,600 people. We know everyone here. That's why we have a good relationship within the community itself. That was destroyed by the social media post. There was no way, in my mind, he could work in an effective manner that day."
Additionally, Riddle addressed the other officer involved, Officer Crocker. He said he's known Crocker since the officer was a teenager and said, “One of the things in watching [the video] is watching Crocker. He made an effort to verbally deescalate that incident.”
Riddle added that, "No doubt with training, he [Crocker] will serve the community well."
Finally, Riddle said he is glad nobody got hurt and added that he's "not judging on if what he [Nazario] did was wrong" and that he just wishes Nazario would have complied.
After the press conference, the Isle of Wight NAACP called for Riddle's resignation, saying they were "appalled" at his comments as well as comments from other town officials during the briefing.
Watch the entire press conference in the video player above.