BUFFALO, N.Y. – BUFFALO, N.Y.Dozens of Buffalo police officers stepped down from the department's crowd control unit Friday, objecting to the suspensions of two fellow officers in the shoving of a 75-year-old protester who fell and cracked his head.
Prosecutors were investigating the encounter captured by a TV crew Thursday night near the conclusion of protests over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota. The footage shows a man identified as Martin Gugino approaching a line of helmeted officers holding batons as they clear demonstrators from Niagara Square around the time of an 8 p.m. curfew.
Two officers push Gugino backward, and he hits his head on the pavement. Blood spills as officers walk past. One officer leans down to check on the injured man before another officer urges the colleague to keep walking.
“Why? Why was that necessary? Where was the threat?” asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo at his daily briefing Friday. The governor said he spoke to Gugino, who had been hospitalized in serious condition. “It’s just fundamentally offensive and frightening. How did we get to this place?”
The police commissioner suspended two police officers without pay Friday, Mayor Byron Brown said.
In response, 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department's emergency response team quit the unit “in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” said John Evans, Police Benevolent Association president, according to WGRZ.
The resigning officers did not leave their jobs altogether.
Gugino and the officers all appear to be white, but details of their backgrounds were not released.