Two Buffalo Police officers who injured a 75-year-old protester on Thursday, Aron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, were arraigned Saturday morning on charges of felony assault, according to The Buffalo News.
The protester, Martin Gugino, was seen on video approaching the officers who were in process of clearing Niagra Square as part of an 8 p.m. citywide curfiew, was shoved to the ground and could be seen bleeding from the head.
Officer Aaron Torgalski, who can be seen on the video pushing Gugino before he fell, was charged with felony second-degree assault, as was Robert McCabe, who can be seen about to kneel toward Gugino after the fall before being moved along by a supervisor.
Both officers pleaded not guilty to the charges as part of a procedure that took place online about 11 a.m. before City Judge Craig D. Hannah.
Hannah released the two men without bail and ordered them to reappear July 20 for their next court proceeding. -The Buffalo News
The officers were quickly suspended after the incident, causing the entire 57-member Emergency Response Team (ERT) to resign from their posts in solidarity. They remain on the force.
"After witnessing first hand how these 2 officers were treated. I can tell you, they tried to fuck over these guys like I have never seen in my 54 years. It is despicable to say the least the treatment they have received from this Administration as well as DA John Flynn and his ADA Gary Hackbush," reads an email allegedly sent by the president of the Buffalo Police Union, John Evans.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, meanwhile, called the elderly protester, Martin Gugino, an "agitator" and a "key and major instigator" of those looting the city in comments made during a Friday news conference reported by TMZ.
"He was in the area after the curfew. One of the things that happened before was conflict among protesters and there was a danger of fights breaking out, and police felt it was important to clear that scene for the safety of protesters," said Brown.