Buffalo cops plead not guilty to assault charges in shoving of protester

Michigan

In this image from video provided by WBFO, a Buffalo police officer appears to shove a man who walked up to police Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. Video from WBFO shows the man appearing to hit his head on the pavement, with blood leaking out as officers walk past to clear Niagara Square. Buffalo police initially said in a statement that a person “was injured when he tripped & fell,” WIVB-TV reported, but Capt. Jeff Rinaldo later told the TV station that an internal affairs investigation was opened. Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended two officers late Thursday, the mayor’s statement said. (Mike Desmond/WBFO via AP)

CBS — The two Buffalo police officers accused of shoving an elderly protester to the ground on Thursday have been charged with second-degree assault, the Erie County District Attorney announced on Saturday. A video of the incident, filmed by an NPR member station, shows the two officers shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino with their riot shields, causing him to fall backwards, and hit his head on the pavement. 

The Erie County District Attorney said that the officers, 39-year-old Aaron Torgalski, and 32-year-old Robert McCabe, were virtually arraigned this morning. Both officers pleaded not guilty to the assault charge, according to CBS affiliate WIVB. They were released on their own recognizance and are scheduled for a felony hearing on July 20, according to the district attorney. 

They now face up to seven years in prison. 

The district attorney said Gugino was taken to the hospital and was treated for a head injury, loss of consciousness and bleeding from his right ear. He remains in critical condition, the district attorney said. 

“As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law,” the statement said. 

This is a breaking story. It will be updated. 

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