BREAKING: 2 Buffalo, NY Police Officers Charged with Assault After Shoving Elderly Protester

Rebekah Sager
June 06, 2020 - 6:31 am

Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, have been charged with assault after a video showed them shoving an elderly man, who then stumbled backward and hit his head on the pavement.

Identified as a peace activist, Martin Gugino, 75, the incident took place Thursday at the end of a protest. Gugino was taken away by ambulance, and according WIVB he suffered a possible concussion.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced Saturday that officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski are facing one count each of second-degree assault for their roles in the incident. Both officers have pleaded not guilty.

"It's black and white in the letter of the law," Flynn told a news conference. "It says right there, anyone who's a victim 65 years or older and the perpetrator is [at least> 10 years younger — it's a felony."

Friday, News 4 reported that the entire Buffalo Police Department Emergency Response Team of 57 officers has resigned from the team as a show of support for officers suspended for pay for shoving the man.

Gugino is now in "serious but stable condition," according to a statement issued by his attorneys on Friday. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said he is "progressing in his recovery."

"Police and other law enforcement have a duty to serve and protect the public. We need them to be the guardians of the public, not warriors engaged in battle with the public," Poloncarz said.

Warning: The video in the below tweet contains graphic language and content. 

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown tweeted on Thursday night that the elderly man was in "stable but serious condition" at the Erie County Medical Center Hospital. He said he was "deeply disturbed" by the video.

"Tonight, after a physical altercation between two separate groups of protesters participating in an illegal demonstration beyond the curfew, two Buffalo Police officers knocked down a 75-year-old man... After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight's event is disheartening," Brown said. "I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequity in the City of Buffalo." 

New York Senator Charles Schumer said the "video was deeply disturbing and the actions were wrong," according to WIVB. 

The New York Civil Liberties Union issued a statement on the matter, saying: "Police officers cannot continue to hide behind the lie that they are protecting and serving." 

"The casual cruelty demonstrated by Buffalo police officers tonight is gut-wrenching and unacceptable. Suspensions and an investigation are already in order, but there is little more we have to see to know what took place," NYCLU Buffalo chapter director John Curr said. "City leaders need to take this as a wake-up call and seriously address the police violence during this week's protest and the culture of impunity that led to this incident." 

CBS News contributed to this story.