Two Police Officers Plead Not Guilty to Assault Charges After Shoving 75-Year-Old Man to the Ground

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful."

By Samantha Schnurr Jun 09, 2020 9:14 PMTags

UPDATE: The elderly protester who suffered a head injury during an altercation with police officers in Buffalo, New York remains hospitalized, his attorney tells NBC News affiliate WGRZ. 

Martin Gugino, 75, is "out of ICU but still hospitalized and truly needs to rest," Kelly V. Zarcone said in a new statement. "Martin has always been a peaceful protestor because he cares about today's society. He is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family."

Get more details on the case below.


UPDATE: Both police officers, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, surrendered themselves on Saturday morning after being charged with one count of second-degree assault for allegedly pushing an elderly protester outside City Hall on Thursday night, according to NBC News.

The two officers pleaded not guilty to their charges and were released on their own recognizance, after they were virtually arraigned on Saturday morning before Buffalo City Court Judge Hannah. They are both scheduled to return to court on July 20 for a felony hearing, the Erie County District Attorney's Office stated.


After viral video emerged of a man shoved to the ground by police, two officers have been suspended. 

In the footage of the incident on Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y., which originally came from local NPR affiliate WBFO and has since been circulated widely online, an unidentified 75-year-old man can be seen walking up to a large group of approaching police officers donning tactical gear and saying something before some officers shout at him and push him so hard that he falls backward onto the ground.

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In the footage, many officers continue to walk past him as the man remains lying on the ground, a pool of what appears to be blood visibly forming at his head. While one officer appears to kneel down toward the man on the ground, he is pushed to continue walking by a fellow officer. Shouts to call a medic and a claim that he is bleeding from his ear can be heard. Toward the end of the video, officers can be seen tending to the man, who is still on the ground. E! News has reached out to the Buffalo Police Department for comment and has not yet heard back.

WBFO/Mike Desmond

According to NBC affiliate WGRZ, "An initial police statement claimed the man was injured when he tripped and fell in front of Buffalo City Hall." However, late Thursday, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown issued a statement on the incident, revealing the unidentified victim is 75-years-old while announcing that two police officers have been suspended.

"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," read Brown's statement, posted to Twitter. "The victim is in stable but serious condition at ECMC."

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He continued, "I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood. He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay. After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight's event is disheartening. 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. My thoughts are with the victim tonight."

The Erie County District Attorney's Office also issued a statement on Twitter, which read, "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. We will provide an update as the investigation progresses."

"He's 75" has since become a trending topic on Twitter. 

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Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo condemned the situation, tweeting, "This incident is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful. I've spoken with Buffalo @MayorByronBrown and we agree that the officers involved should be immediately suspended pending a formal investigation. Police Officers must enforce — NOT ABUSE — the law."

The New York Civil Liberties Union also addressed the situation publicly, stating, "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. Police officers cannot to hide behind the lice that they are protecting and serving. 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. There is no place for military-geared police to enforce a curfew by inflicting violence on the very people they are supposed to protect."

Their statement continued, "We are in solidarity with Buffalo's protesters and demand that demonstrators can protest without the threat of police brutality on the streets tomorrow."

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

(This story was originally published on Friday, Jun 5, 2020, 7:15 a.m. PST)

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