Two Buffalo Police Department officers have been suspended after they were caught on video pushing a 75-year-old man to the ground during a protest.
Per the Thursday night footage shot by reporter Mike Desmond of NPR affiliate WBFO, an elderly man holding his phone walks toward a group of law enforcement officials who are clearing an area in Niagara Square. When the man appears to talk to two of the cops, one appears to push the man with his arm, while another appears to use his baton. The man stumbles backwards and falls to the ground.
“Push him back,” a person is heard repeatedly saying in the clip.
As the man lies on the pavement, blood is seen pouring from his ears.
According to WKBW reporter Jeff Russo, a BPD spokesperson initially released a statement saying the man “was injured when he tripped & fell.”
On Thursday night, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown announced that Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood has launched an investigation into the matter, and that the two officers involved have been suspended, as they “knocked down a 75-year-old man.”
Brown also wrote that the man is in “stable but serious condition” at Erie County Medical Center.
“I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood,” Brown wrote on Twitter. “After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening. I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequity in the City of Buffalo. My thoughts are with the victim tonight.”
Despite their reported previous statement, the BPD confirmed on Facebook that the two officers involved faced disciplinary action after they “were seen on video pushing an elderly man to the ground.”
"The Buffalo Police Commissioner has immediately suspended two police officers tonight who were seen on video pushing an elderly man to the ground," they wrote. "An internal affairs investigation is currently underway into the incident."
On Friday, WBFO reports that all 57 members of BPD’s Emergency Response Team have resigned from the unit to show support for the two suspended officers.
According to multiple reports, all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team have resigned from the team as a show of support for the two officers who were suspended last night.— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
#Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, in a statement, says "The City of Buffalo is aware of developments related to the work assignments of certain members of the Buffalo police force. At this time, we can confirm that contingency plans are in place... (1/2)— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
...to maintain police services and ensure public safety within our community. The Buffalo police continue to actively work with the New York State Police and other cooperating agencies." (2/2)— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020