Buffalo police officers cleared for pushing over 75-year-old protester
Two Buffalo police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing after a video surfaced of them pushing over a 75-year-old man during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020.
Local station WIVB, an affiliate of Nexstar, reported on Sunday that Buffalo Police Department Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe won’t face any charges over the incident.
The two officers were part of a police line that was clearing protesters out of the area near City Hall when they approached demonstrator Martin Gugino.
In the video, both Torgalski and McCabe appear to shove Gugino, who then loses his balance and falls to the ground, cracking his head on the concrete pavement. Gugino spent multiple weeks in the hospital recovering from his wounds.
In a court ruling on Friday, arbitrator Jeffrey Selchick said that Gugino wasn’t an innocent bystander and that no evidence proved the two officers deliberately tried to injure him.
“Gugino, after the force was applied to him, appears to have not been able to keep his balance for reasons that might well have had as much to do with the fact that he was holding objects in each hand or his advanced age,” Selchick said.
Selchick also said in his ruling that the 75-year-old man may have surprised the officers, which could interfere with the officer’s performance of their duties, the ruling said.
In a statement to NBC affiliate WGRZ, the city’s Police Benevolent Association celebrated the arbitrator’s decision.
“Two good cops who initially got thrown under the bus are back to the profession they love and they’re doing it with a clean slate. No criminal charges, nothing administratively. They’re ready to hit the streets and go back to work for the citizens of Buffalo,” association attorney Thomas Burton said in a statement.