A pair of cops filmed shoving a 75 year-old protester onto a pavement causing him to crack his skull have been charged with second-degree assault.
Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, of the Buffalo Police Department, both denied an allegation of attacking Martin Gugino at a court hearing in the upstate city Saturday. If convicted, they face up to seven years jail. The men have since been released on bail over the alleged assault, which happened Thursday.
After the cops were charged, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – the former state prosecutor for New York – called the video footage of the alleged assault ‘horrendous, disgusting and I believe – illegal’.
But McCabe and Torgalski have been supported by their colleagues, 57 of whom resigned from Buffalo PD’s emergency response unit in protest after the men were suspended without pay over, although those supporters have not resigned from the police department itself. A large group of Buffalo Police Department officers also turned up at the courthouse Saturday to back McCabe and Torgalski.
The officers were ordered home from their jobs Friday after a TV crew captured their confrontation with Gugino the night before.
It happened near the end of protests over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department.
The footage showed Gugino approaching a line of helmeted officers holding batons as they clear demonstrators from Niagara Square around the time of an 8pm curfew.
Two officers – since identified as McCabe and Torgalski – were seen pushing Gugino backwards, causing him to hit his head on the pavement.
Blood spilled out from his skull as the pair walked on past. Gugino was rushed to hospital, where he remains in a serious but stable condition.
One of the two officers was seen leaning down to check on the injured man before a colleague urged him to keep walking.
After the alleged assault, Buffalo Police Department sparked fury by releasing a statement claiming Gugino had tripped and fallen.
And the city’s Mayor Byron Brown also backed McCabe and Torgalski on Friday after branding Gugino an ‘agitator’ who had repeatedly ignored instructions to move out of the way.
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