The grand jury voted to dismiss the charges.
Assault charges against two Buffalo, New York, police officers seen in a video shoving a 75-year-old man to the bottom throughout a protest final yr have been dropped, prosecutors introduced Thursday.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe confronted felony assault charges over the June 4 incident at Niagara Square. In the video, protester Martin Gugino is seen strolling within the route of the officers earlier than they’re seen pushing him. Gugino fell flat onto his again and bumped the again of his head on the concrete, video exhibits.
The grand jury voted to “no bill” the case, finally dismissing the charges, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn mentioned throughout a press briefing Thursday.
Flynn defended his determination to carry charges against the officers.
“To this day, I’ll stand by the fact that charges should have been charged, and there was probable cause at that time to charge that offense, and I stand by that,” Flynn mentioned. “I make no apologies for it.”
The grand jury proceedings are sealed and Flynn was unable to elaborate on what occurred, however he mentioned prosecutors “put all relevant evidence” earlier than the grand jury, together with a number of witnesses.
“I sandbagged nothing,” he mentioned. “You have my word on that.”
Both officers, who have been suspended after the incident, entered not responsible pleas throughout their arraignment in June. The case was delayed attending to the grand jury on account of COVID-19 restrictions that had closed the courts, Flynn mentioned.
Joseph Latona, the legal professional for Torgalski, advised ABC News they have been “obviously very pleased” by the grand jury’s determination.
“We feel they made the right decision,” he mentioned. “And obviously it was their decision to make.”
Thomas Burton, the legal professional for McCabe, advised ABC News they’re centered on getting the officers “back in the saddle where they belong.”
“Nobody wanted to see Mr. Gugino get hurt, but this did not happen because these two cops sought out to hurt anyone,” Burton mentioned. “The bottom line is, there’s nothing malevolent here.”
Gugino advised ABC affiliate WKBW Thursday night time that he is shocked the charges against the officers have been dropped. “It’s a surprise and I think the whole world is going to be surprised,” he mentioned.
“You think I am breaking the law, arrest me,” Gugino added, referring to the officers’ use of power towards him. “Don’t push me down. Where is that in the training manual?”
Both officers stay suspended pending the end result of an inside affairs investigation. It is unclear at this level when that can be accomplished, Buffalo Police Department Captain Jeff Rinaldo advised ABC News Thursday.
The Buffalo police union issued an announcement in help of the officers following the grand jury’s determination.
“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.”
Gugino was amongst fewer than 20 demonstrators protesting against the demise of George Floyd in Minnesota whereas in police custody. The protest occurred after a Buffalo curfew, Flynn famous.
“There was a curfew, and he broke the law,” Flynn mentioned. “He should not have been shoved. He should have been arrested peacefully.”