75-year-old protester pushed to the ground by Buffalo police files lawsuit

A 75-year-old man who was seen being pushed to the ground by Buffalo police and bleeding on the ground during a protest last year is suing officers and other officers, according to court documents.

Martin Gugino suffered a skull fracture in the June 4 meeting, which was captured on video.

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Western District of New York seeks economic damages and punitive damages “in an amount sufficient to punish them and deter others from similar conduct.”

A prosecutor filed charges against two Buffalo police officers, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, but a grand jury earlier this month rejected the charges and the case was dismissed.

Those two officers appear in the civil lawsuit, as well as a third who was not charged, along with the city, police commissioner and Mayor Byron Brown.

Emailed requests for comment to the mayor’s office and the police department were not immediately responded to early Tuesday, but on Monday, the city did not comment to NBC affiliate WGRZ. A spokesperson told the station that attorneys for the corporation would handle the case.

Gugino was pushed shortly after the curfew went into effect at 8 p.m.

The protest was held in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck on May 25. Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country.

The complaint says the police team “shouted in a chorus ‘push him, push him'” after Gugino approached a line of police officers with batons and helmets.

It alleges that another officer pushed McCabe and Torgalski towards the activist and then pushed him, causing him to fall and be seriously injured.

After the charges were dismissed earlier this month, the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association defended the officers’ actions.

“Officers McCabe and Torgalski were simply following departmental procedures and directives from their superiors to clear Niagara Plaza despite working in extremely challenging circumstances,” said union president John Evans, in a sentence.

Gugino suffered a concussion and skull fracture and spent nearly a month in the hospital.

Gugino has said that he thinks the curfew was wrong.

The lawsuit says that Gugino’s right to assemble peacefully was violated, that the use of force against him was illegal and unnecessary, and that the curfew was unconstitutional.

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