Buffalo Officers Charged With Assault After Shoving Elderly Man To The Ground
Two police officers in Buffalo, USA, have been arrested and charged with assault after they were filmed shoving an elderly man to the ground.
Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were each charged with one count of assault in the second degree in a court hearing this (Saturday) morning. Both officers pleaded not guilty in the virtual hearing and were released without bail.
Shocking footage showed 75-year-old Martin Gugino approaching a line of officers in Niagra Square before being shoved, falling and hitting his head on the ground, with blood pouring out of his ear.
One officer could then be seen stopping to check on Gugino, but he was urged to move on by other officers. Gugino was taken to hospital with severe head injuries.
It was originally reported by police that the man had 'tripped', but after footage of the incident began to circulate on social media, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended the two officers without pay.
The Erie County DA's Office continues to investigate the incident captured on video outside City Hall that resulted in the injury of protester. The victim was taken to ECMC to be treated for a head injury. He was unable to provide a statement to investigators last night.- Erie County DA (@DAErieCountyNY) June 5, 2020
Subsequently, 57 police officers have resigned from the emergency response unit in solidarity with the suspended officers.
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They will still be employed by Buffalo Police Department but will no longer serve on the emergency response unit, meaning Buffalo in essence no longer has such a unit, as the 57 made up the entire team, according to CNN.
John Evans, the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said the police had resigned because they believe the officers who were suspended were 'simply doing their job'.
According to Buffalo News, he said: "Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square.
"It doesn't specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don't know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards."
The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, condemned the officers involved, describing the incident as 'wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful'.
Gugino is involved with the Western New York Peace Center and Latin American Solidarity Committee, and the center's executive director Vicki Ross described him as a 'peaceable person'.
She said: "I can assure you, Martin is a peaceable person. There is no way that he was doing anything to accost or hurt. He made a judgement to stay out after the curfew because he feels that our civil liberties are so in danger, which they most certainly are."
There has been civil unrest across the US since 46-year-old black man George Floyd died in police custody on 25 May.
Featured Image Credit: WBFO