Fifty-seven members of the Buffalo Police Department resigned on Friday to protest the suspension of two officers who were caught on video shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground, causing him to hit his head on the sidewalk and suffer a serious injury, The Washington Post reported.
The disturbing footage, shot by local NPR affiliate WBFO on Thursday evening, shows the elderly man walking up to a group of advancing uniformed officers in Buffalo’s Niagara Square during an anti-police-brutality demonstration after George Floyd’s death.
Just about an hour ago, police officers shove man in Niagara Square to the ground (WARNING: Graphic). Video from: @MikeDesmondWBFO pic.twitter.com/JBKQLvzfET
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
The officers, who had begun enforcing a local curfew, shout what sounds like “move!” and “push him back!” as the man approached.
One officer can be seen pushing the man with an outstretched arm, while another shoves a baton into his chest.
A third officer appears to shove colleagues toward the man, the Post notes.
The man falls backward, slamming his head against the pavement and then he lies motionless as a pool of blood forms on the ground.
“He’s bleeding out of his ear!” someone yells out.
The man is left on the ground for several more seconds before two state police officers step in to render aid.
A newly surfaced video appears to show the man was attempting to hand officers a police helmet seconds before he was pushed into the pavement.
This video you can clearly see the gentleman is trying to hand them what appears to be a police helmet @oscarxray https://t.co/82QozW5Qz8
— ruthjust (@gravyshots) June 5, 2020
On Friday, the police department’s entire emergency response team resigned in protest of their colleagues’ suspension.
“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.
The 75-year-old man, later identified as Martin Gugino, was taken to a hospital after his fall and was in “stable but serious condition,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.
Buffalo police spokesman Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said he believes the man’s injuries include a laceration and “possible concussion,” while Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said it was a “serious head injury.”
Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood launched an internal affairs investigation into the officers after seeing the video.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) called the incident “fundamentally offensive and frightening.”
“I would say I think the city should pursue firing,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “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.”
A Buffalo police statement initially claimed the man was injured when he “tripped and fell” during “a skirmish involving protesters,” before a video of the man being shoved by officers surfaced online.