57 Buffalo cops resign from emergency response team after officers suspended for pushing 75-year-old man
Jay Croft, CNN
Published at | Updated at
(CNN) — Fifty-seven police officers in Buffalo, New York, have resigned from the force’s emergency response team following the suspension of two officers who allegedly pushed a 75-year-old man to the ground during a protest, a source close to the situation told CNN.
An investigation is underway in an incident Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.” The man was seriously injured.
Video of the demonstration Thursday shows a row of officers walking toward the man and two pushing him. His head bleeds onto the sidewalk as officers walk past him, some looking down at him.
“Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” Buffalo Police Benevolent Association president John Evans told WGRZ on Friday. WKBW also reported news of the resignations.
The man’s identity, Martin Gugino, was confirmed by Cuomo’s office. Gugino is hospitalized in serious but stable condition, authorities said.
CNN has reached out to police and the association for further comment.
The demonstrators in Niagara Square were, like those across the country, calling for racial justice after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Based on the initial video, police issued a statement that said Gugino tripped and fell, Buffalo Police Department spokesman Mike DeGeorge told CNN.
After more videos became available, police amended that statement, and Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended the officers without pay and opened an investigation, he said.
“The department moved swiftly” and “corrected” the information, DeGeorge said.
Mayor Byron Brown called the incident “disheartening” and said his thoughts were with Gugino.
Prosecutors are investigating, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office tweeted.
Gugino had a head injury and could not give a statement to investigators Thursday night, the tweet said.
Cuomo said the officers should be fired and prosecutors should move “fairly but quickly.”
“When I saw the video, I got sick to my stomach,” Cuomo said. “I would encourage the district attorney not to do what happened in Minneapolis, which the delay itself caused issues,” said the governor, adding, “People don’t want vaguery. They are upset and want answers.”
Earlier on Twitter, he said, “This incident is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful. … Police Officers must enforce — NOT ABUSE — the law.”
Cuomo said he spoke with Gugino.
“Thankfully he is alive,” Cuomo said Friday at his daily news conference in Albany. “You see that video, and it disturbs your basic sense of decency and humanity.”
Cuomo also called out attacks on police officers, saying, “You have incidents of police getting hit with bricks in the head. Who are we?”
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