BUFFALO, NY – Two Buffalo Police Department officers are back on the job after being cleared of any wrongdoing for pushing aside a 75-year-old man during a June 2020 protest who then fell and suffered a skull fracture.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe will not face any further discipline after an arbitrator’s decision on Friday, according to Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans.
Arbitrator Jeffrey Selchick was tasked with weighing whether the officers violated the police department’s use-of-force rules. Selchick stated in his report that use of force was justified as protester Martin Gugino approached the line of officers and refused to comply with their orders. The ruling read:
“The use of force employed by respondents [police officers] reflected no intent on their part to do more than to move Gugino away from them.
“Upon review, there is no evidence to sustain any claim that respondents had any other viable options other than to move Gugino out of the way of their forward movement.”
BPBA President Evans told 7 News WKBW the arbitrator “clearly saw in no way was this an excessive force incident.”
Evans said he was not surprised by the decision. He said the arbitrator broke down “frame by frame” a widely seen video that captured the incident in front of City Hall. Evans added:
“He did fall backwards, but that may have been on his own.”
Torgalski and McCabe were part of a large group of officers clearing Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo for curfew by walking through the sidewalk area. Video recorded by a WBFO reporter went viral amid the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020.
It showed Gugino intercepting the police officers and repeatedly waving a cell phone in his right hand toward the midsection of one of the officer. The officers pushed him away and he fell backward, hitting his head on the sidewalk. Gugino was hospitalized for four weeks with a fractured skull and brain injury.
McCabe and Torgalski were suspended and charged with second-degree assault. They pleaded not guilty and were released without bail. The pair had each been facing up to seven years in prison but on Feb. 11. 2021, a grand jury declined to indict the officers.
The lawyer representing McCabe told the Buffalo News at the time that he was pleased with the decision. He said:
“. . . two good cops can get their lives back now after being vilified with a hundred million tweets. The right thing happened here. Their two faces went out worldwide as brutal human beings. They’re not. They’re two cops with flawless records who can now go back to what they love doing, and that’s helping people.”
He has been arrested 382 times. The cops are innocent. You don't wave you hand this close to a cops gun EVER. pic.twitter.com/rg6kPknJKl
— ßlair Anton®️ (@blairantonshow) June 10, 2020
However, shortly after the charges were dismissed, longtime activist Gugino filed a civil lawsuit against the city, the police officers involved, Buffalo Police Department leadership and Mayor Byron Brown.
The lawsuit claims the defendants violated Gugino’s rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, petition the government for redress of grievance, movement, unreasonable seizures and freedom from the unlawful use of force by government agents, and to due process of law.
The civil lawsuit is unaffected by the arbitrator’s ruling, said Melissa Wischerath, an attorney representing Gugino.
The officers had been suspended throughout the criminal proceedings, and remained suspended pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation. Evans said the case is now concluded for the officers and they returned to work on April 11.
Two Buffalo police charged with assault after man appears to reach towards police belt, gets knocked down
June 6, 2020
BUFFALO, NY – In today’s episode of “What is Happening in Our Country?” I bring you news out of Buffalo.
Law Enforcement Today has been reporting about the Buffalo Police and a 75-year old man that was pushed back after approaching a police skirmish line.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe with Buffalo PD have now been charged with second degree assault from the incident. They were released on their own recognizance and are expected to be back in court on July 20.
Both officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The officers were initially suspended but now the county has upped the ante in their attempt to virtue signal protesters screaming about police brutality.
The Union has told members it will not cover legal fees for the department’s Emergency Response Team, which has led to the members resigning from the team. Those officers have elected to remain employed by the department as patrol officers.
Of course, the officers’ charges were pushed by N.Y. Gov. Cuomo, who said:
“I would say I think the city should pursue firing. And I think the district attorney should look at the situation for possible criminal charges. And I think that should be done on an expeditious basis.”
Never to be outdone by politicians pushing an anti-police narrative, The Washington Post reported:
“A Buffalo police statement initially said that a man was injured when he ‘tripped and fell’ during ‘a skirmish involving protesters,’ in which several people were arrested. That language only amplified the criticism, as the video soon showed it was false.”
One may argue that he did, in fact, trip. If you look at the video (actually look at it with open eyes, not with eyes attempting to see police doing something wrong), you can see that the officers used less force than they would have been authorized to.
The man, identified as Martin Gugino, approached a skirmish line knowing he was being asked to move. He then started arguing with police who are focused on clearing out protesters, which is what they are directed to do.
And then, he puts his right hand WAY too close to one of the involved officers. More than once. And Gugino was holding something, it looks to be a cell phone, in that hand. Cell phones themselves can be used as weapons, and things that look like cell phones are made to be weapons.
If it were me and his hand was that close to me, cell phone or no cell phone, in that kind of situation, I would have either done the exact same thing as the officers, or used my baton to strike him in the leg.
I’m sorry, but you just don’t reach towards a police officer’s tool belt like that. He’s in his mid-70’s and protests regularly. He should know the rules.
And then comes this disgusting narrative that the officers left him there because they wanted him to die. Please.
Police and military are trained on these kinds of instances, including active shooters, to hold the front line. If someone goes down (subject or officer), the front line keeps pushing forward and officers in the rear render aid.
WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED.
If people are pissed off with the way police are trained, then fine. Protest. Cry. Write letters and demand change.
But don’t try to criminalize the men and women who carry out their training. Don’t try to put people who put their lives on the line DAILY with NO support (especially in New York) in jail for doing their jobs.
I could keep talking, but I’ll let a few tweets handle the rest for me.
So at 75 you decided to confront the police head on arguing and hitting one with your cell phone. You knew there was possibility of getting hurt at you age from the simplest of actions. Yet you did it anyway. Moron
— johnnybronco (@johnnybronc) June 6, 2020
Hope you get better. The constitution does indeed state that freedom of assembly is not absolute and gov. Can impose time, location etc.
— Nelson (@nelsonanthern) June 6, 2020
You old leftist fart. Time and place restrictions on public protests have been constitutional permissable for decades in the interest of public order.
— Paul Klee (@PaulKle55412040) June 6, 2020
Don't slap cops. Especially ones clearing an area. You are a wannabe professional martyr @martingugino
— IdiocyRev3lations #BLM #FuLlyVax (@IRevalations) June 6, 2020
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