2 Buffalo police officers plead not guilty to assault charges

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Two police officers in Buffalo, New York, were arraigned and charged with assault Saturday, two days after a video surfaced of them shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground.

Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe both pleaded not guilty to felony second-degree assault charges, the Buffalo News reported. Both men pleaded not guilty via video conference and were released without bail by City judge Craig D. Hannah, CNN reported.

The judge ordered the two officers to return to court July 20, the News reported. The arraignment lasted about two minutes, according to the newspaper

Torgalski, 39, can be seen on Thursday’s video pushing Martin Gugino before he fell, the newspaper reported. McCabe, 32, was shown on the same video about to kneel toward Gugino before he was moved along by a supervisor.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended the officers without pay after the incident and ordered an internal investigation, the News reported.

The suspensions led to the resignations of all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department Emergency Response Team team, the News reported. Several of its members, along with others from the department members, gathered outside Buffalo City Court Saturday morning to support Torgalski and McCabe, the newspaper reported.

The incident in Buffalo was one of dozens nationwide since the death of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of a Minneapolis officer.

Gugino is recovering at an area hospital and is reported to be “alert and oriented” his attorney told WGRZ.

Erie County District attorney John Flynn told the television station that felony charges were issued because of the age of the victim and that the accused were at least 10 years younger.

At a news conference Saturday, Flynn said he waited a day before charing the officers.

“I could have done this yesterday,” Flynn said. “I found out that the entire emergency response team of the Buffalo Police Department had quit and they weren’t going to come out last night to protect the city of Buffalo.”

Flynn said he “didn’t want to pour gasoline on the fire.”