All 57 members of a special squad within the Buffalo Police Department have resigned from their posts in solidarity with two officers who were suspended without pay on Thursday after video showed them shoving a 75-year-old man who stumbled backward and fell hard to the pavement, leaving him motionless and in a pool of blood.
As WGRZ reported, the members of the department’s Emergency Response Team quit their posts on Friday, with the announcement coming from the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association.
“Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” said John Evans, PBA president.
The report noted that the team was formed in 2016 to work during mass protests or riots. The officers will remain on the police force, but will not participate in the Emergency Response Team.
Footage from Thursday showed close to three dozen officers wearing riot gear advancing toward protesters in the city’s Niagara Square after the city-imposed 8 p.m. curfew. As police advanced toward the remaining protesters, an elderly individual approached the line of officers and was shoved backward by at least two of them, sending him stumbling and ultimately falling hard to the pavement, where it appeared he struck the back of his head.
The clip then showed several officers walking over or around the man’s body as he lay motionless and bleeding from his ear before a law enforcement member identified as someone from the National Guard stopped to administer aid.
Video of the incident can be seen below, but be warned that the images can be distressing for some.
The video garnered viral interest as it spread across social media, garnering more than 10 million views in just a few hours and prompting outrage from many. That included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called the incident “utterly disgraceful.”
“This incident is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful. I’ve spoken with Buffalo @MayorByronBrown and we agree that the officers involved should be immediately suspended pending a formal investigation,” he said. “Police Officers must enforce — NOT ABUSE — the law.”
The department also came under fire for initially releasing a statement saying that a protester “tripped and fell” during the event, not mentioning that he had first been pushed by officers. The man was taken to a nearby hospital and was listed in stable but serious condition.
After the 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned on Friday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the New York State Police are bringing in more troopers to assist in the city.