Who is Joe Gutierrez? Virginia cop fired for assaulting Black Army officer Caron Nazario at gunpoint
Gutierrez pepper-sprayed and struck second lieutenant Caron Nazario during a traffic stop in the town of Windsor and was sued for the same
Windsor Police Officer Joe Gutierrez has been fired after an internal investigation was conducted into his conduct in a December 2020 incident. Gutierrez was caught assaulting a US Army officer on bodycam footage, despite the officer complying with all his demands.
US Army second lieutenant Caron Nazario was pulled over by Gutierrez and his partner Daniel Crocker on December 5. Nazario said he was "honestly afraid to get out” of his brand-new SUV, after being approached by the cops with their guns drawn. Nazario was also reportedly pepper-sprayed and knocked to the ground. They have now been named in a lawsuit filed by Nazario, who alleged his constitutional rights have been violated.
The assault has caused widespread condemnation. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a statement calling for an independent investigation. In the meantime, here's everything we know about Gutierrez, who is no longer with Windsor PD.
Who is Joe Gutierrez?
We couldn't find a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profile for Gutierrez. There also seems to be no record of him prior to the incident with Nazario. Interestingly, he is not mentioned in Windsor PD's 2018 annual report. The report does not list Gutierrez or Crocker as either full-time or auxiliary staff. We did find a LinkedIn profile for Gutierrez, but cannot verify that it belongs to the same person since it does not have a photo.
According to the profile, Gutierrez served as an infantryman with the United States Marine Corps between 1991 and 1995. He describes his experience as 'infantry fire team leader'. He then went on to graduate in 1996 from Riverside City College's basic peace officer training academy. It is unclear what Gutierrez did between 1996 and 2002. The next entry in his profile is listed as a 'police officer' between 2002 and 2009. It does not list which department he worked with.
In 2010, Gutierrez spent six months as a 'personal protection specialist' with Sexton Executive Security, a private security firm. We were able to confirm Gutierrez worked here, as images of him are available on the firm's Facebook page. During this time, he also pursued multiple courses at Commonwealth Criminal Justice Academy. That includes a course in personal protection specialist, Glock armorer and advanced handgun qualification. He spent the latter half of 2010 as a private investigator with Finders Investigation Inc.
Since 2010, Gutierrez has been working as a police officer. The profile does not list a location, so we cannot confirm if he has been with Windsor since then. The only other record of Gutierrez is in the assault of Nazario. On April 11, the town put out a press release in which they said, "it was determined that Windsor Police Department policy was not followed. Since that time (January), Officer Gutierrez was also terminated from his employment." No information was provided about the fate of officer Crocker.
Reportedly, Gutierrez joined Crocker, who was the first to call in Nazario's car. Discussing Nazario's decision to pull over at the station, he said, "I get it, the media spewing race relations between law enforcement and minorities, I get it," in the court filing. He also reportedly said "it happens all the time" and added he assumed "at least 80% probability" that Nazario was a minority.
Nazario is now seeking $1M, along with punitive damages due to the incident. It is unclear at this time how Gutierrez plans to appeal, and if he will be supported by the police union.