BUFFALO, NY – According to Erie County, NY, District Attorney John Flynn, a grand jury has declined to indict two Buffalo police officers accused of assaulting a protester last summer.
The incident occurred on June 4, 2020, in Buffalo, New York, during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were working alongside their law enforcement colleagues to enforce an 8pm curfew and clear Niagara Square in front of City Hall.
As we previously reported, viral video showed 75-year-old “longtime activist” Martin Gugino approaching and standing in front of the two officers. He repeatedly stuck his right hand out in front of one of them.
Video next showed the officers giving Gugino a shove, after which Gugino stumbled back, lost his balance, and landed on the sidewalk, striking his head.
BREAKING: Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says a grand jury has dismissed the case against two Buffalo police officers who pushed a man during Black Lives Matter protests in Niagara Square in June 2020. https://t.co/EUeVcguNvW
— 7 Eyewitness News (@WKBW) February 11, 2021
Gugino was rushed to the hospital, where he spent a month recovering from a brain injury and a fractured skull.
The office of Erie County District Attorney John Flynn pursued felony charges against the two officers. Flynn explained that the situation warranted felony charges rather than misdemeanor assault because Gugino was over 65 years old and the officers were more than 10 years younger than Gugino.
Officers Torgalski and McCabe were suspended from the police force after the incident. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Thomas H. Burton, attorney for the officers, noted to reporters that Gugino was the only person that “challenged 30-some cops after three bullhorn-instructions to leave Niagara Square.”
Burton also stated that the “force that was used against Mr. Gugino was minimal,” adding that “Nobody started out to hurt this man.”
The attorney went on to say:
“The unfortunate outcome with Mr. Gugino cracking his head is not the legal issue you have to look at.”
He explained further:
“The real issue is what is the intent and whether it was criminal with the minimal force both officers used.”
Former District Attorney Thomas M. Finnerty told The Buffalo News:
“I thought from day one the video by itself that I saw on TV failed to provide probable cause, let alone proof beyond a reasonable doubt, to prove criminal intent or criminal recklessness on the part of the officers.”
A grand jury declined to indict Buffalo Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski on felony assault charges, ending the matter. https://t.co/d21ToEMdbY
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) February 12, 2021
Despite filing felony charges, District Attorney Flynn did place some blame at the feet of Gugino, telling reporters:
“Mr. Gugino committed a crime. He had no business approaching those police officers. There was a curfew and he broke the law.”
Flynn added, however, that he thought the officers should not have pushed Gugino.
Instead, he said:
“They should have grabbed him, gently turned him around and walked him peacefully…off the steps.”
After the grand jury’s dismissal of the charges on Thursday, February 11th, Flynn stressed to reporters that he could not disclose details of the secret grand jury proceedings.
He then took on potential criticisms of his handling of the case by saying:
“I’ve got 28 years as a naval officer, and I live and breathe every day by the core values: honor, courage and commitment.”
“And integrity happens to be a big thing with me….
“I’m telling you that I sandbagged nothing.”
“I went into that grand jury, I put all relevant evidence into that grand jury. I put multiple witnesses in that grand jury.
“I put everything that was not cumulative into that grand jury. And you got my word on that.”
He also added:
“I would not make any changes on any of my decisions going back to when this happened, OK?
“And yeah, I’m not going to tell you that in my opinion the right thing happened here, because I still believe that a crime was committed.”
According to CNN, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association was “extremely pleased” with the outcome of the grand jury’s deliberations.
The PBA also noted:
“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.”
Buffalo PBA President John Evans also told CNN:
“We are grateful the grand jury decided not to charge.”
“They saw there was no criminal intent. These officers have been put through hell. We look forward for their return to work.”
As for Gugino, the protester told CNN that he was “a little surprised” at the grand jury’s decision not to indict the officers.
“I think there was pressure on (Erie County District Attorney John Flynn) to get at least an indictment, an expectation that the justice system would do something to try to change the direction of the police department, change the reality of the police in the street.
“And I think people are, I think it will happen that people are disappointed that this misfired.”
Grand Jury Clears Buffalo N.Y., Police Accused Of Assaulting Elderly Protester
Except he wasn’t an “elderly protester.”
He was a known far left agitator who caused the entire incident. https://t.co/DrQxe5oHnQ
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) February 12, 2021
The journey for officers Torgalski and McCabe has not ended, as their suspension continues, pending an internal affairs investigation.
In addition, their trial in the court of public opinion on social media promises to follow them.
The officers’ attorney, Thomas H. Burton, noted that it would be hard to repair their damaged reputations.
“I’m pleased that two good cops can get their lives back now after being vilified with a hundred million tweets.”
“And the only problem with this case — while we got a good legal outcome and an appropriate one — our legal training doesn’t let us sponge away a reputation that was demolished worldwide.
“And I don’t know how you fix that.”
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Here is one of our original reports on the incident in Buffalo.
Two Buffalo police charged with assault after man appears to reach towards police belt, gets knocked down
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 Torglaski 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 NY Governor 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 (@IRevalations) June 6, 2020
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