The two Buffalo police officers who were suspended without pay for shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground at a Black Lives Matter protest on Thursday night (June 4) have reportedly been charged with second-degree assault.
Officers Robert McCabe, 32, and Aaron Torgalski, 39, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are felonies, and will be released on their own recognizance. NBC affiliate WGRZ reports both are scheduled for a court appearance on July 20 for a felony hearing.
The event was captured on video that has since gone viral. It shows 75-year-old social justice activist Martin Gugino approaching a large group of officers in tactical gear. He then says something to the officers, who demand he move. As he’s moving back, two cops simultaneously push him hard, causing him to fall on his back and hit his head against the concrete. Gugino is clearly seen bleeding from his ear and back of his head.
John Flynn, Erie County’s District Attorney, said in a press conference that McCabe and Torgalski "clearly crossed the line."
"I can't turn a blind eye to that," he said. "If he was violating a curfew, if he was being disorderly, you turn him around, handcuff him, and take him away and arrest him. It's as simple as that. You don't take a baton and shove it; along with the officer next to him using his right hand to shove him and knock him down, and crack his head, his skull on the concrete."
WGRZ reports that as of Saturday, Gugino was still recovering at the hospital but is “alert and oriented.” He was taken to Eric County Medical Center in Buffalo in serious but stable condition.