Two Buffalo police officers were charged with assault Saturday after a viral video showed them pushing down a 75-year-old man, prosecutors said according to the Associated Press.
The video showed the two officers pushing down an elderly man who approached them at a protest. The incident occurred around the time of New York’s 8 p.m. curfew when police were clearing demonstrators from Niagara Square, the Associated Press reported. The man, Martin Gugino, hit his head on the pavement, and officers kept walking past.
Just about an hour ago, police officers shove man in Niagara Square to the ground (WARNING: Graphic). Video from: @MikeDesmondWBFO pic.twitter.com/JBKQLvzfET
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
The two officers were suspended without pay Friday, and the rest of their 57-member squad resigned “in disgust” over the treatment of their fellow officers.
“I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood,” Democratic Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement Thursday. “After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening.”
The officers in the video, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, surrendered themselves Saturday and were charged with second-degree assault, the Associated Press reported. They both pled not guilty and have been released without bail. (RELATED: REPORT: Off-Duty Cop Shot While Attempting To Help Fellow Officer)
Several off-duty police officers came to the courthouse Saturday in support of McCabe and Torgalski.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a news conference Saturday that the two officers “crossed a line” when they pushed “a harmless 75-year-old man” hard enough that he cracked his head, according to the report.
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he thinks “there was criminal liability” from what he saw on the video.
“I think what the mayor did and the district attorney did was right, and I applaud them for acting as quickly as they did,” he said. “What we saw was horrendous and disgusting, and I believe, illegal.”