Always obey lawful orders

Published 5:18 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Most of us have seen the videos involving Army Lt. Caron Nazario and Windsor Police Officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker. I’m not condoning the officer’s words or actions, but armchair policing is easy when watching the videos from the comfort of home.

Approximately 1:25 into the YouTube video entitled “Body Camera Video 2 Shows Windsor Police Officer Pepper-Spray Army Officer,” Officer Crocker, with gun drawn, ordered Lt. Nazario to open the door slowly and step out of the vehicle. Lt. Nazario was ordered almost 20 times to get out of his vehicle. About 2:32 into the video, Officer Crocker clearly said: “Sir, just get out of the car. Work with us and we’ll talk to you. Get out of the car.”

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During my 24-year military career, I was taught to obey lawful orders and cooperate with authority. This is expected of everyone in the military, especially an officer.

The Supreme Court ruled that, in the interest of officer safety, you must exit your vehicle if ordered to do so. Lt. Nazario could have diffused the entire situation by simply obeying a lawful order. By choosing not to, Lt. Nazario may have come off as suspicious, even though entirely innocent. Being in military uniform doesn’t mean you get a pass; it means you demonstrate a higher standard of conduct, especially when faced with fear, danger or adversity.

According to ABC 7, WJLA, in Arlington, when the officers took Lt. Nazario aside for questioning, Officer Crocker went into the Tahoe and found a firearm, belonging to Lt. Nazario.

I realize being pulled over by the police with guns drawn is scary and seems excessive, but the recent killing of New Mexico State Police Officer Darian Jarrott shows even a routine traffic stop can be anything but routine.


Joe Naneville