Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced Thursday that the charges against two Buffalo Police officers for shoving an elderly protester to the ground during a Black Lives Matter protest, and cracking his head open on the pavement have been dismissed, WGRZ reports.
Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, were charged with second-degree assault for their involvement in an incident last June at Niagara Square where they pushed 75-year-old Martin Gugino, causing him to fall backwards onto the concrete, and bleed from a head wound.
The graphic scene, which you can see below, was captured on video.
Gugino suffered a brain injury and a fractured skull from the fall, which required a month-long hospital stay. Torgalski and McCabe were suspended as an internal investigation was being conducted. Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo noted that the charge against them was considered a felony since it happened to someone who was over the age of 65.
All 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned after Torgalski and McCabe were suspended. While many interpreted the move as a show of solidarity with their fellow officers, two anonymous people from the volunteer assignment team argued that they left because they no longer had any legal support from the city.
John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement that they were “very pleased” with the decision to dismiss the charges against Torgalski and McCabe. “As we have stated all along, Officers McCabe and Torgalski were simply following departmental procedures and the directives of their superiors to clear Niagara Square despite working under extremely challenging circumstances,” Evans said. “The Buffalo PBA remains in staunch support of Officers McCabe and Torgalski.”