Apr 11, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Buffalo police officers cleared after shoving 75-year-old protester

Two Buffalo police officers were cleared of wrongdoing over a viral video showing them pushing a 75-year-old protester over during a June 2020 racial injustice demonstration following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, per AP.

Why it matters: Martin Gugino spent about a month in the hospital with a fractured skull and brain injury following the incident. But an arbitrator found that officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski did not violate the Buffalo Police Department's use-of-force guidelines.

The big picture: McCabe and Torgalski were attempting to clear the Black Lives Matter protest near City Hall for an evening curfew.

Driving the news: "Upon review, there is no evidence to sustain any claim that Respondents (police officers) had any other viable options other than to move Gugino out of the way of their forward movement," wrote arbitrator Jeffrey Selchick in a decision on Friday.

  • "[T]he use of force employed by Respondents reflected no intent on their part to do more than to move Gugino away from them," continued Selchick, who noted that Gugino had refused to comply with the officer’s commands" to leave the area.
  • "Gugino, after the force was applied to him, appears to have not been able to keep his balance for reasons that might well have had as much to do with the fact that he was holding objects in each hand or his advanced age," Selchick said.

What's next: Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said in a statement that the two officers would be reinstated for duty on Monday, the Buffalo News reports.

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