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Buffalo police officers who pushed elderly man during 2020 protest cleared of wrongdoing

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Posted at 11:34 AM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 11:34:39-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Two officers with the Buffalo Police Department have been cleared of any wrongdoing in an incident during a protest in June 2020 that left a 75-year-old man injured.

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.

Evans said the arbitrator "clearly saw in no way was this an excessive force incident."

"He did fall backwards, but that may have been on his own," Evans added.

Torgalski and McCabe were initially charged with assault as a result of a confrontation between them and protester Martin Gugino in Niagara Square in June 2020. Those charges were dismissed by a grand jury in February 2021. Shortly after charges were dismissed, Gugino filed a lawsuit against the city, the police officers involved and Buffalo Police Department leadership, and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

Evans says the arbitrator broke down the video that captured the incident in front of City Hall "frame by frame".

"They didn't come up with anything that showed any type of excessive force whatsoever," Evans explained.

Torgalski and McCabe were two of many officers clearing the square by walking through the sidewalk area after a curfew took effect. Video recorded by a WBFO reporter showed the officers shoving Gugino, then continuing to move forward. Gugino fell backward and hit his head. He spent four weeks in the hospital recovering from injuries to his head.

The officers had been suspended throughout the criminal proceedings and remained suspended pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.

Evans says the case is now concluded for the officers and he expects them to return to the police force.

"They've been put through hell. It will be great to see them come back," replied Gugino.

This story was originally reported on wkbw.com.