Newsmax’s Greg Kelly drew extreme ire Monday after he criticized Caron Nazario, the Black Army lieutenant who was pepper sprayed and held at gunpoint during a traffic stop in Virginia last December. Body camera and cell phone footage of the incident went viral this month and one of the two officers involved in the stop has been terminated.
“Troublemaker Lt Nazario should be KICKED OUT of the military. His Stupid Actions and unwillingness to comply with very Basic (and legal) instructions from POLICE mean he’s INCAPABLE OF EVER LEADING TROOPS. He’s gonna get people killed unnecessarily. OUT of the @USArmy!” Kelly, whose strange tweets have caused commotions before, fumed.
Kelly tweeted about the situation repeatedly on Monday, saying the lieutenant — who was in uniform at the time of the stop — may have had a gun, and reposting articles about the lawsuit brought against officers Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker by Nazario. Gutierrez has since been fired.
Predictably, Kelly, whose 7 p.m. ET show has seen significant ratings declines since the beginning of the year, began trending on Twitter for his comments.
Numerous political observers accused him of racism, but some of the attacks came from other conservatives. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, for instance, weighed in on the relevance of whether a driver in the state had a gun, writing, “Virginia is not a ‘must notify officer’ state. They even have the second amendment in Virginia too!”
Shermichael Singleton, a Black conservative with his own hefty Twitter following, added, “The Second Amendment exists fo reason [sic], he has EVERY right to keep and bear arms. Do we know if he had a concealed carry license? Also, even if he doesn’t, in the state of Virginia you can legally have a handgun in a private motor vehicle.”
Body-camera footage of the stop went viral last week. In it, Nazario, who is Black and Latino, says, “I’m honestly afraid to get out.”
An officer replies, “Yeah, you should be.”
According to Nazario, what was described in an incident report as his attempt to evade cops was actually him driving for about a mile after the stop began in an effort to find a well-lit location. The initial reason for pulling him over, according to the officers, was a lack of license plate, though his lawsuit said it was visible in the back window of his new vehicle when they approached.