- A Buffalo grand jury dismissed felony assault charges against two Buffalo police officers.
- In June, the two officers shoved 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground, fracturing his skull.
- Erie County DA John Flynn said he believed the officers committed a crime, but not at the felony level.
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Erie County District Attorney John Flynn shared that a grand jury dismissed charges against two Buffalo police officers who shoved and injured an elderly man during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were charged with felony assault and suspended without pay after the incident. The altercation, caught on video, showed Martin Gugino, 75, peacefully walking towards officers and then being forcefully pushed to the ground.
In the graphic and now-viral clip, Gugino lays unconscious as his head starts bleeding. Gugino suffered a fractured skull and brain injury as a result of the incident, his attorney said over the summer. (Viewer discretion is advised for the clip below.)
At the time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, the push “was disgusting, and I think, illegal.”
At a press conference on Thursday, Flynn said, “I still believe a crime was committed. I don’t believe a felony was.” Flynn argued that by attending a protest past curfew, Gugino broke the law.
Flynn denied claims that he “sandbagged” the case. “The grand jury did their job. I apologize for nothing,” Flynn said. Flynn also tried to defend Gugino in one instance from a conspiracy Trump once spread, saying, “He’s not antifa, OK?”
Gugino told WKBW Buffalo that he believes his constitutional right to protest superseded him breaking a curfew. “Even if I were breaking the law, you can’t just hit me. Where is that in the training manual?” Gugino said.
John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, issued a statement following the case’s dismissal.
“The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association is extremely pleased with today’s decision by a grand jury to dismiss charges against Buffalo Police Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski,” the statement said.
The statement added that the two officers “were simply following departmental procedures and the directives of their superiors to clear Niagara Square despite working under extremely challenging circumstances.”
Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo told WKBW that the two officers remain suspended pending an internal investigation.