Huge Crowd Cheers For Buffalo Cops Charged With Shoving 75-Year-Old Protester
As two Buffalo police officers were charged with second-degree assault for pushing a protesting pensioner to the ground, their colleagues and friends gathered outside to cheer in support.
Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, were charged and released without bail on Saturday, June 6, for their involvement in the case of Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old man who was shoved to the ground and left motionless as he bled from the ear during a Black Lives Matter protest in Niagara Square.
Gugino is currently in hospital in a serious but stable condition. Shortly after the mass resignation from Buffalo’s emergency response team, more than 100 fellow officers and friends appeared outside Buffalo City Court to applaud the suspended assailants.
You can see MSNBC‘s video of the crowd cheering in support below:
The assault sparked a tumultuous fallout across the city of Buffalo, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo described the officers’ actions as ‘wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful’. On Friday, June 5, the entire 57-member tactical unit resigned from the team allegedly in support of the suspended officers, according to the police union.
The pair, both of whom pleaded not guilty, could each face up to seven years in prison, with District Attorney John Flynn condemning their actions against the pensioner. He told WIVB-TV: ‘You take him away and arrest him. Simple as that. You don’t take a baton and shove him along with the officer next to him using his right hand, shoving him.’
You can watch the original incident in the video below. Warning, graphic footage:
The crowd outside the court was mostly made up of off-duty officers, firefighters and friends. John Evans, President of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said ‘it was tremendous, tremendous to see… I just think it’s a strong indication of the outrage, basically, over this travesty’.
Evans earlier explained to The Buffalo News:
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.
McCabe’s lawyer, Tom Burton, argues that prosecutors don’t have grounds to bring felony charges. He said, as per The Guardian, that ‘nobody started out their day intending to hurt this fellow’, adding that ‘none of this would have happened’ if he’d complied with the officers’ demands.
Cuomo said at a press briefing following the arraignment: ‘I think what the mayor did and the district attorney did was right, and I applaud them for acting as quickly as they did. What we saw was horrendous and disgusting, and, I believe, illegal.’
The two officers will return to court on July 20.
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