Windsor, VA

Recently, in Windsor, Virginia, United States of America, a local police officer, Police Officer Gutierrez, pulled over Army Second Lieutenant Nazario; ostensibly for the lack of displayed license plate. As it was to turn out, a temporary plate was on display in the vehicle’s rear window. When Lt. Nazario slowly proceeded to a well lighted area in front of a convenience store, pulled over, and stopped, Police Officer Gutierrez, and a second, back up, officer approached the Lt.’s vehicle with guns drawn and pointed at Lt. Nazario while giving somewhat conflicting commands. Lt. Nazario is heard to say that he is afraid to get out of the car.

Was it reasonable force for the two police officers to draw to their weapons for a traffic stop after it was evident that there was no reason to make the stop in the first place? In the video, Police Officer Gutierrez is heard to say, “You received an order, obey it.” Do police have a god-given right to be obeyed? What is so suspicious about an army officer in fatigues near Hampton Roads, VA, (an area as aswarm with military installations and personnel as any in the world)? Why did the police officers demand that Lt. Nazario get out of his vehicle? Why not start with conversation? What right did the officers have to demand that the Second Lt. Nazario lie face down on the pavement? What compelled them to do so? Shouldn’t the police be required to produce proof of suspicious behavior before taking such drastic measures?

Why did this traffic stop in Windsor, VA, in particular, and so many others, in general, go down this way? First, it seems to be all too routine for police in small towns, in suburbia, to be on the prowl for traffic violations? In Ferguson, MO, and in a lot of other small towns, traffic tickets were/are a major source of revenue, a way to fund police departments. This leads to too many traffic stops. Were Police Officers in Windsor given a traffic ticket quota to meet? In this case, once the officers saw the temporary plates in the rear window, they should backed off. With today’s technology, most traffic violations could be better handled through state DMVs.

Where to begin? Beginning with the Windsor Police Officers, why did the officers behave in the manner they did? How much training did they have? What were their psychological profiles? Were their personalities suited for police work? For even traffic wardens? Were they fearful for their lives? Did Lt. Nazario’s race play a role; were the two police officers particularly afraid of young black men?

Later, Police Officer Gutierrez, Windsor, VA, intimated that he suspected that the driver was of a minority because of the tinted windows. Was now former Officer Gutierrez on the prowl for vehicular violations by minority drivers when he pulled Army Second Lieutenant Nazario over for a suspected vehicular violation? There is no mention of Second Lt. Nazario having committed a driving error, having done anything to warrant the attention. Was Officer Gutierrez drawn to police work by an authoritarian streak? Did rural Virginia culture play a role? What role did America’s gun culture play?

Lt. Nazario told the two police officers that he was afraid to get out of his vehicle. Who wouldn’t be; especially, if you were a young black man in rural Virginia? Nation wide, the police killing of young black men after a traffic stop is an all too common occurrence. How can it be that a Army Second Lt. can be treated this way in 2021? Turns out, Lt. Nazario had a concealed weapon in his vehicle for which he had a license. Why did Lt. Nazario feel it necessary to carry a gun? Should everyone be carrying a weapon at all times and places, as has been suggested by the NRA?

What is the role of the town of Windsor, VA? Windsor, VA put Officer Gutierrez on the street. In doing so, they became responsible for his actions. Minneapolis’s $27million dollar settlement with George Floyd’s family was testament to that responsibility. How well did Windsor screen and train its police? How well do they pay their police. Were Officer Gutierrez authoritarian tendencies known to his supervisors? Did they approve of such behavior?

Are police afraid for their lives with each traffic stop? Or only those involving young men of color? Does the media’s coverage of the news convey a false narrative that young men of color are prone to violence and likely to be armed? Did the media’s portrayal get into the heads of police everywhere? What role did the criminal behavior of some young men of color play? How did this narrative come to so permeate our society? Are all black and brown people victims of this narrative?

What role did politics and the courts play in us getting to this intolerable juncture? Looking back, the politics of law and order was almost certainly a factor. So were Supreme Court decisions such as Graham v. Connor in re reasonable force (there must be a Scalia in here someplace). Since the nation’s beginnings, race has played a role in her politics, in her courts, in her law enforcement. What role Trump’s benediction?

These are some of the factors involved, some of the questions that need answers, in the Windsor incident. There are no doubt others. Many of the answers to these questions will need addressing.

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