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Windsor police caught in crossfire of social media confusion

Windsor Star logo Windsor Star 2021-04-13 Taylor Campbell

Windsor police communications officers have been busy dealing with unwarranted backlash on Twitter in recent days after footage of a violent traffic stop in a Virginia town by the same name surfaced online.

a person in a car:  U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario holds up his hands before being sprayed with a chemical agent by Windsor police officer Joe Gutierrez during a violent traffic stop at a gas station in a still image from Gutierrez’s body camera taken in Windsor, Virginia, U.S. December 5, 2020. © WINDSOR VIRGINIA POLICE via REUTERS U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario holds up his hands before being sprayed with a chemical agent by Windsor police officer Joe Gutierrez during a violent traffic stop at a gas station in a still image from Gutierrez’s body camera taken in Windsor, Virginia, U.S. December 5, 2020. The local law enforcement agency has replied to more than 100 angry tweets that tagged @WindsorPolice but condemned the actions of American officers with the Windsor Police Department — not the local Windsor Police Service — who were seen on video using pepper spray and pointing their guns at a Black Army officer before pushing him to the ground during a traffic stop in December of 2020.

“On Friday our service noticed via our social media accounts that we were getting tagged very, very often in relation to an incident in a town called Windsor, which is located in Virginia,” Windsor police spokesperson Const. Talya Natyshak told the Star on Tuesday. “The posts definitely involved a lot of misdirected hate and frustration.”

That’s when Windsor police began replying to the posts, she said.

In each reply to Twitter users who mistakenly tagged Windsor police instead of the American police department involved in the incident, Windsor police said the same thing:

“We would like to let you know that you have tagged our Police Service which is located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. We would politely ask you to correct this tweet. We believe you have mistakenly tagged us. Thank you!”

Many of the heated tweets that tagged @WindsorPolice have since been deleted by their authors, however many others remain online. Natyshak said several Twitter users apologized to the Windsor Police Service through direct messages, as well as through Twitter replies. Other social media users even started to correct each other on the behalf of Windsor police.

Although Windsor police are occasionally mistakenly tagged in posts meant for law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Natyshak said this incident has incited more erroneous tags involving the force than any other she’s seen.

The Windsor Police Service’s Twitter account description specifies the force is located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

“Social media works very fast,” Natyshak said. “Take your time, especially if you’re tagging anyone. (Make) sure that you’re tagging the correct person or business.”

During the traffic stop in Virginia, two officers, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, reportedly believed 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario was missing a licence plate on his new vehicle when they pulled him over.

Video from the officers’ body cameras and Nazario’s cell phone show Nazario asking for several minutes why he’d been pulled over while the two police officers point their guns at his vehicle. They then approach, yelling at him to get out of the vehicle. He continues to ask why he was pulled over and has his hands sticking out of his open window. Then, an officer uses pepper spray on him before he exits the vehicle and is pushed to the ground.

One of the two American officers involved in the incident, Gutierrez, has since been fired, the Town of Windsor announced Sunday. The state’s attorney general has requested more information from the town’s police.

tcampbell@postmedia.com

twitter.com/wstarcampbell

a group of people in uniform:  U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario is treated by an ambulance crew while handcuffed after being sprayed with a chemical agent by Windsor police officer Joe Gutierrez at a gas station during a violent traffic stop in a still image from officer Daniel Crocker’s body camera taken in Windsor, Virginia, U.S., December 5, 2020. © WINDSOR POLICE via REUTERS U.S. Army 2nd Lieutenant Caron Nazario is treated by an ambulance crew while handcuffed after being sprayed with a chemical agent by Windsor police officer Joe Gutierrez at a gas station during a violent traffic stop in a still image from officer Daniel Crocker’s body camera taken in Windsor, Virginia, U.S., December 5, 2020.
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