Buffalo Police Officers Who Pushed Elderly Protester to the Ground Have Charges Against Them Dismissed
Officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault last year
Charges against two Buffalo police officers accused of assaulting an elderly protestor last summer have been dropped.
Erie County, New York, District Attorney John Flynn announced on Thursday that the grand jury has chosen not to indict officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe, who previously pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault charges, according to NPR.
Torglaski and McCabe were charged in June after footage surfaced of two Buffalo police officers knocking down 75-year-old Martin Gugino during a protest against racial injustice.
Flynn said in a press conference on Thursday that despite the failure to indict, he believes that the assault warranted the felony charges that he filed.
"The video speaks for itself," Flynn said, per NPR. "If the individual victim is 65 years or older and the perpetrators are 10 years younger, then it reaches that felony level."
In the video from WBFO, one officer appears to push Gugino with his arm as another uses his baton, forcing the man backward as he stumbles and falls to the ground.
Gugino is then seen bleeding from his ears while flat on the pavement. Another officer calls for an EMT as the rest of the team walks on past the injured man.
According to his attorney, Kelly Zarcone, Gugino had hit his skull on the pavement during the incident and sustained a brain injury.
"As most of you know, Martin is a soft spoken but thoughtful and principled man. As heartbreaking as it is, his brain is injured and he is well aware of that now," Zarcone said in a statement to PEOPLE in June.
"He feels encouraged and uplifted by the outpouring of support which he has received from so many people all over the globe. It helps," she continued. "He is looking forward to healing and determining what his 'new normal' might look like."
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On Thursday, the police union representing Torglaski and McCabe issued a statement on saying that they were "extremely pleased" with the decision not to indict the officers.
"The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association is extremely pleased with today's decision by a grand jury to dismiss charges against Buffalo Police Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski," the statement read.
"As we have stated all along, Officers McCabe and Torgalski were simply following departmental procedures and the directives of their superiors to clear Niagara Square despite working under extremely challenging circumstances," the statement continued. "The Buffalo PBA remains in staunch support of Officers McCabe and Torgalski."