75-year-old protester files lawsuit against Buffalo

Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester who was pushed to the ground by officers during a demonstration against police brutality and racial injustice last year, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the city, its mayor and other officials.

Gugino in June was seen in a now-viral video approaching police officers amid a demonstration. The video showed Gugino being pushed back by the officers, falling and hitting the ground. Blood could be seen pooling from his head. 

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced last week that a grand jury voted to dismiss a case against police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski over the incident. They were charged with second-degree assault after being seen in the video footage making contact with the 75-year-old man. 

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The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, names the city of Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown (D), McCabe, Torgalski, police officer John Losi, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood and Deputy Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. 

The lawsuit slams a curfew that police were seeking to enforce the day of the incident was “unconstitutional and draconian” and “selectively enforced against peaceful protesters.”

It also claims that police used “unlawful and unnecessary force” and that defendants violated Gugino’s constitutional rights, including his rights to the freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly. 

Gugino was hospitalized with a fractured skull after the June incident and spent nearly four weeks in medical facilities, according to a Monday statement from Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, the law firm representing the man. 

The Hill has reached out to Brown’s office and the Buffalo Police Department for comment.