Brandon Tatum, a former Tucson, Ariz., police officer and host of “The Officer Tatum” podcast, has expertly broken down an incident between two Virginia cops and a black Army lieutenant, explaining that the officers were in the right and should not have been fired.
Reports surfaced on Monday that two Windsor, Va., officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, used pepper spray and then forced Army Second Lt. Caron Nazario, who is black and Latino, to the ground after he appeared to resist their instructions.
Video that went viral online shows only a small portion of the incident, but it was clear that Gutierrez, the officer who pepper-sprayed Nazario, was highly agitated that the Army officer was not following instructions to exit the vehicle and get on the ground.
Gutierrez was fired after the incident, which occurred in early December.
To begin his podcast, Tatum played a disturbing dashcam clip of a New Mexico State trooper who was ambushed and killed by a driver following what initially appeared to be a routine traffic stop, which he used to segue into his analysis of the Virginia incident.
“After you watch that, and you can see how things can escalate very quickly, without warning,” Tatum said, before playing a bodycam video of the Windsor officers’ interaction with Nazario.
He went on to note that the reason the Army officer was pulled over was that his license plate was not properly displayed on the rear of his vehicle, which is a violation of traffic ordinances. Tatum also said that, according to the officers’ post-arrest reports, Nazario drove for a mile-and-a-half without slowing or even making any attempt to pull over even though the officers were signaling with their flashing lights for him to stop.
That, in and of itself, led to heightened suspicion among the officers, Tatum noted, which also caused them to draw their weapons, as per their training.
But as bodycam video showed, Nazario ignores repeated, shouted commands to place his hands out of the driver’s side window.
“Clear commands to me,” Tatum said. “Stevie Wonder can see the words coming out of his mouth.”
The officer continues shouting for Nazario to put his hands out the window and, as Tatum points out, “at gunpoint,” but the Army officer ignores the order, leading police to become even more tense, as the podcaster reminds viewers of the incident involving the shooting death of the New Mexico trooper.
At that point, Tatum noted that Nazario had been setting up his phone to video police rather than following instructions, suggesting that the Army officer was attempting to entrap the cops.
Tatum then blasted Nazario for refusing to fully cooperate and act like he wasn’t sure what was going on despite the obvious intent of police to stop him and order him out of his vehicle.
“‘What’s goin’ on?’ Brother, what you think is goin’ on?” Tatum said, adding he was getting “heated” watching the lack of respect for the cops’ authority.
He went on to play a segment where Nazario flatly refused to get out of his vehicle, as repeatedly ordered, and instead kept asking officers why they had guns drawn and, “What’s goin’ on?”
“As a person who is a second lieutenant in the military, you are a disgrace for acting this way,” Tatum said, as Nazario continued to refuse the officers’ commands.
“My personal opinion, very simple, you follow the directions,” Tatum said. “This is not the point where you argue with the police officers.”
Because he repeatedly refused officers’ orders to get out of the vehicle, Nazario was eventually pepper-sprayed and then physically put on the ground and cuffed, as seen in the viral video clip on social media.
Later, Gutierrez is seen explaining to a handcuffed Nazario that he spoke to the chief of police and discussed options, which included staying with the Army officer until he could see clearly and letting him go or, if he chose to continue arguing, they could arrest and charge him, which would have additional consequences from the Army.
Tatum said he believed the officers were very respectful and went out of their way for Nazario.
“But you know, he can’t chill because there’s too much social justice burnin’ in his spirit,” Tatum said. “So of course, he filed a lawsuit.”
Tatum added that the officers should work on their tactics somewhat but that they properly deescalated the situation by using pepper spray and reasonable use of force. He added that they did not have to cut Nazario a break because he had clearly violated the law.
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