On Thursday, as protesters convened on Buffalo to demand justice for George Floyd, a bystander captured video in which a police officer appeared to shove an elderly man. After the man fell to the ground, an officer appeared to begin to check on him, before himself being physically directed away from the man by another officer, later identified as a supervisor.
In the video, bystanders can be heard telling police that the man had done nothing wrong and that he needed a medic. The video can be seen below, but be warned: it contains graphic content that could be disturbing to some viewers.The man has been identified by TMZ as 75-year-old Martin Gugino, whom Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown called an "agitator" and "instigator."
Similarly, Mike DeGeorge, a spokesperson for the city and police department, said that Gugino "tripped and fell."
"Once the department became aware of additional video from the scene, they immediately opened an investigation," DeGeorge told ABC News.
The two officers were suspended following the incident. In response, 57 fellow members of the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned in solidarity with the two suspended officers, as reported by The Inquisitr. They did not resign entirely from their jobs with the Buffalo Police, but rather, only with that particular unit.
Now the two officers have been criminally charged in response to the incident.
Officer Aaron Torgalski, who allegedly first laid hands on Gugino, has been charged with felony second-degree assault. Also charged with the same crime was Robert McCabe, the officer who appeared to be about to kneel down near the aged man.
Due to coronavirus restrictions that have seen many courts across the country carry out some proceedings over Skype or other forms of video conferencing, neither man was physically present in the courtroom on Saturday morning. Appearing for their arraignment before City Judge Craig D. Hannah over Skype, both men, through their attorney, Joseph M. LaTona, pleaded not guilty.
Hannah did not order the men to be taken into custody. Similarly, Erie County Assistant District Attorney John P. Feroleto did not ask for bail. He noted that neither man has a criminal record, and that both are longtime residents of the county.
Both men's next court appearance will be on July 20.