Officers who pushed 75-year-old BLM activist to the ground are cleared of wrongdoing

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By stefan armitage

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Two New York police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing after footage of them pushing an elderly activist to the ground caused outrage back in 2020.

On June 4, 2020 - amid the Black Lives Matters protests that surged following the murder of George Floyd - cell phone footage showing a 75-year-old Martin Gugino went viral on social media.

Gugino had been protesting in Niagara Square in Buffalo, New York, as officers were attempting to clear the area prior to the 8:00PM curfew.

The footage then showed officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe pushing Gugino to the ground, causing his head to hit the concrete. Gugino then lies motionless on the ground and blood trickled from his head.

The video can be seen below (Warning: some readers will find it upsetting):

Following the incident, Torgalski and McCabe were suspended and charged with second-degree assault - leading to 57 members of the police tactical unit resigning from the voluntary role. Charges against the two officers were dropped following a grand jury inquiry.

Now, as reported by Fox News, all four departmental charges against the two men have been dropped, as an arbitrator cleared the two officers of any wrongdoing.

On Monday, both men returned to regular duties.

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Black Lives Matter protestors in Buffalo back in June, 2020. Credit: Sipa US / Alamy

Per NBC News, arbitrator Jeffrey Selchick wrote in his decision on Friday: "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."

Selchick added that the level of force used by the officers on Gugino was "absolutely legitimate" due to the fact that the officers had requested the 75-year-old man move back, he was acting erratically, and that he was the one to approach the officers.

"The use of force employed by Respondents reflected no intent on their part to do more than to move Gugino away from them," Selchick added.

Gugino is currently in the process of suing the city of Buffalo.

His attorney, Melissa Wischerath, told Buffalo News that Selchick's ruling has no impact on Gugino's lawsuit on the city.

"We are not aware of any case where this arbitrator has ruled against on-duty police officers, so his ruling here on behalf of the police was not only expected by us, but was certainly expected by the union and city who selected and paid him," she said.

When footage of Gugino's fall first went viral back in June of 2020, it let to widespread backlash on social media.

Basketball legend LeBron James tweeted about the incident at the time, writing: "Don’t matter what color your skin is if you’re not angry seeing this you’re part of the problem too!"

However, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown said at the time that Gugino was an "agitator".

Speaking at a press conference, Brown said: "What we were informed of is that that individual was an agitator. He was trying to spark up the crowd of people. Those people were there into the darkness. Our concern is when it gets dark, there is a potential for violence.

"There has been vandalism, there have been fires set, there have been stores broken into and looted. According to what was reported to me, that individual was a key major instigator of people engaging in those activities."

Featured image credit: REUTERS / Alamy

Officers who pushed 75-year-old BLM activist to the ground are cleared of wrongdoing

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

Two New York police officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing after footage of them pushing an elderly activist to the ground caused outrage back in 2020.

On June 4, 2020 - amid the Black Lives Matters protests that surged following the murder of George Floyd - cell phone footage showing a 75-year-old Martin Gugino went viral on social media.

Gugino had been protesting in Niagara Square in Buffalo, New York, as officers were attempting to clear the area prior to the 8:00PM curfew.

The footage then showed officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe pushing Gugino to the ground, causing his head to hit the concrete. Gugino then lies motionless on the ground and blood trickled from his head.

The video can be seen below (Warning: some readers will find it upsetting):

Following the incident, Torgalski and McCabe were suspended and charged with second-degree assault - leading to 57 members of the police tactical unit resigning from the voluntary role. Charges against the two officers were dropped following a grand jury inquiry.

Now, as reported by Fox News, all four departmental charges against the two men have been dropped, as an arbitrator cleared the two officers of any wrongdoing.

On Monday, both men returned to regular duties.

size-large wp-image-1263151283
Black Lives Matter protestors in Buffalo back in June, 2020. Credit: Sipa US / Alamy

Per NBC News, arbitrator Jeffrey Selchick wrote in his decision on Friday: "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."

Selchick added that the level of force used by the officers on Gugino was "absolutely legitimate" due to the fact that the officers had requested the 75-year-old man move back, he was acting erratically, and that he was the one to approach the officers.

"The use of force employed by Respondents reflected no intent on their part to do more than to move Gugino away from them," Selchick added.

Gugino is currently in the process of suing the city of Buffalo.

His attorney, Melissa Wischerath, told Buffalo News that Selchick's ruling has no impact on Gugino's lawsuit on the city.

"We are not aware of any case where this arbitrator has ruled against on-duty police officers, so his ruling here on behalf of the police was not only expected by us, but was certainly expected by the union and city who selected and paid him," she said.

When footage of Gugino's fall first went viral back in June of 2020, it let to widespread backlash on social media.

Basketball legend LeBron James tweeted about the incident at the time, writing: "Don’t matter what color your skin is if you’re not angry seeing this you’re part of the problem too!"

However, Buffalo mayor Byron Brown said at the time that Gugino was an "agitator".

Speaking at a press conference, Brown said: "What we were informed of is that that individual was an agitator. He was trying to spark up the crowd of people. Those people were there into the darkness. Our concern is when it gets dark, there is a potential for violence.

"There has been vandalism, there have been fires set, there have been stores broken into and looted. According to what was reported to me, that individual was a key major instigator of people engaging in those activities."

Featured image credit: REUTERS / Alamy