The Buffalo, New York, police officers who were seen on video pushing down a 75-year-old man at a June 2020 protest will not face charges.
On Thursday, a grand jury declined to indict officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, who were facing felony assault charges for their alleged actions against protester Martin Gugino.
Because grand jury proceedings are held in secret, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn could not reveal what led the jury to “no-bill” the case.
“I want to tell you what occurred in the grand jury so this can be explained in more detail,” Flynn told press. “But, unfortunately, I can’t.”
In a shocking video recorded by Mike Desmond of NPR affiliate WBFO, Gugino was seen walking toward the cops, who were clearing an area in Niagara Square. When Gugino 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.
According to WKBW reporter Jeff Russo, a BPD spokesperson initially released a statement saying the man “was injured when he tripped & fell.” However, the BPD later confirmed on Facebook that two of their officers “were seen on video pushing an elderly man to the ground.”
In addition to being hospitalized, the man suffered a fractured skull and was unable to walk, said his lawyer Kelly Zarcone.
In response to the grand jury’s decision, Gugino told Spectrum News Buffalo on Thursday, “I am a little surprised.”
“I think there was pressure on (Flynn) to get at least an indictment, an expectation that the justice system would do something to try to change the direction of the police department, change the reality of the police in the street. And I think people are, I think it will happen that people are disappointed that this misfired,” he told the outlet.
While anticipating criticism that he had “sandbagged” the case, Flynn said, “You really only have my word that I didn’t sandbag anything — that I put all relevant information and evidence into that grand jury. I presented it all to the grand jury, and they made a decision.”
Per the New York Times, the BPD say the officers remain suspended pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.
In June, then-President Donald Trump suggested on Twitter that Gugino had ties to Antifa, a controversial left-wing anti-fascist and anti-racist political movement. However, Zarcone later denied the claim to TMZ.