By John Kanelis / firstname.lastname@example.org
With much of the nation riveted on the trial of a former cop who suffocated a man by pressing his knee on the back of his neck, I am utterly astonished at the conduct of another police officer who decided to roust a uniformed Army lieutenant.
Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, is on trial for killing George Floyd, a black man arrested for passing a fake piece of currency.
Now we have former white cop Joe Gutierrez pepper-spraying 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario after stopping him because Nazario, who also is black, didn’t have a license plate displayed on his brand new vehicle.
Perhaps you have seen the video of Gutierrez ordering Nazario to get out of his car. Nazario was trying to talk the officer down. Gutierrez responds by spraying Nazario in the face while he was sitting behind the steering wheel of his car! The more recent incident occurred in Windsor, Va.; the city manager has fired Gutierrez.
Yes, the incident involving Lt. Nazario occurred in December, prior to the start of the Chauvin trial. Still, intense public scrutiny of George Floyd’s death garnered tremendous attention. It called attention to police conduct throughout the nation.
Yet we now have video showing an officer overreacting in the extreme on a traffic stop that never, ever should have escalated to the level that it did.
It is fair to ask: Did the ex-officer choose to drop the hammer on the young Army officer only because he is a black man?
This national conversation must continue. There must be some resolution to what is becoming what looks to be an all-too-frequent occurrence.
I have long stated my belief and support of police officers. I recognize the life-threatening danger to which they expose themselves every day they report for work. I have known many fine officers over my years covering their activities while working in the media; I live next door to a fine young man who patrols our highways for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Still, what we now have seen unfold in Windsor, Va., simply boggles my noggin.