US police officers charged with assault after 75-year-old protester pushed

6 June 2020, 17:57

The elderly man was pushed during a protest in Buffalo
The elderly man was pushed during a protest in Buffalo. Picture: WBFO

By Megan White

Two police officers in the US have been charged with assault after a video showed a 75-year-old protester being shoved during recent demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, who are officers in Buffalo, New York State, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. They were released without bail.

District attorney John Flynn said that the officers "crossed a line".

The officers had been suspended without pay on Friday after a TV crew captured the confrontation the night before near the end of protests.

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 8pm curfew.

Two officers push Mr 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.

The video of the encounter sparked outrage online as demonstrators take to cities across the country to protest against Mr Floyd's death.

State governor Andrew Cuomo said: "I think there was criminal liability from what I saw on the video.

"I think what the mayor did and the district attorney did was right, and I applaud them for acting as quickly as they did.

"What we saw was horrendous and disgusting, and I believe, illegal," he added.

However, dozens of Buffalo police officers who were angered over their fellow officers' suspensions stepped down from the department's crowd control unit on Friday.

The resigning officers did not leave their jobs altogether.