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Two Buffalo officers charged with assault over police shoving 75-year-old man to ground

If the man, Martin Gugino, 75, was being disorderly, officers could have arrested him, the prosecutor said. “You don’t take a baton and shove it ... and knock him down, and crack his head.”

Buffalo Police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski.
Buffalo Police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski.

NBC NEWSTwo Buffalo officers, who were suspended without pay after a video showed police shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground at a George Floyd protest on Thursday night, were charged Saturday with second-degree assault.

A large crowd of police officers and firefighters stood in front of Buffalo City Court to show support for the two officers as they attended a virtual arraignment on Saturday.

Officers Robert McCabe, 32, and Aaron Torgalski, 39, pleaded not guilty to the charges of second-degree assault, a felony, and will be released on their own recognizance, according to NBC affiliate WGRZ in Buffalo. They are both scheduled to return to court on July 20 for a felony hearing.

The now-viral video of the incident shows longtime social justice activist Martin Gugino, 75, approaching a large group of officers in tactical gear and saying something. The officers yell for him to move back before one appears to push him. Gugino then stumbles backwards and falls. Seconds later, a pool of blood can be seen near his head. The incident occurred shortly after the city's 8 p.m. curfew, NBC affiliate WGRZ in Buffalo reported.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said in a press conference after the arraignment that McCabe and Torgalski "clearly crossed the line."

“I can’t turn a blind eye to that,” he said.