— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
Horrifying video out Buffalo, New York has led to the suspension of two police officers. Here’s what we know about the Thursday incident so far.
1. The Video
Video obtained by Buffalo outlet WBFO shows police clearing out the area in front of City Hall at the end of a protest. The outlet said this happened at the beginning of curfew Thursday evening.
As a group of officers advanced, an elderly man headed n the opposite direction and seemingly addressed some of the police. At least three of the officers in particular crowded in on the man. As seen on the footage, at least one of this officer clearly put his hands on the man, while another seemed to at least hold up a baton.
The man fell on his back. His head dipped out of frame for a moment, but when it reappeared it was clear that damage had been done.
“He’s bleeding out his ears,” said an unidentified man.
That much is clear from the footage, as blood pooled below the elderly mans’ head.
2. The Man’s Condition
The elderly man in the video has been identified as Martin Gugino, 75, by the organization People United for Sustainable Housing Buffalo, according to The Washington Post. Capt. Jeff Rinaldo, a police spokesman, said he believed the man sustained a laceration and “possible concussion.” He was in “stable but serious condition,” Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said in a statement published to Twitter.
Harper S.E. Bishop, a deputy director of the group, told the Post that Gugino was a longtime member and a community organizer.
“Martin shows up for his people, our community, to dismantle systems of oppression,” he said. “That’s what he was doing tonight at City Hall. He shouldn’t have been met with police violence for showing up and demanding accountability for the ongoing brutality and murder of Black lives.”
3. The Original Police Statement Says The Man “Tripped,” But That’s Not What Happened
The original statement from police attracted criticism.
— Jeff Russo (@JeffRussoWKBW) June 5, 2020
They initially said that the man tripped and fell during a “skirmish involving protesters.” That’s not what the video showed.
pretty obvious point, but worth emphasizing that the Buffalo PD released a statement that the 75-year-old man “tripped and fell,” despite 14 cops seeing their colleague shove him and knowing the statement was a lie, and none of them ever would have said or done shit about it
— Natalie Shure (@nataliesurely) June 5, 2020
Re: that awful video. Buffalo PD officially said that the man tripped & fell. If we didn’t have video there would have been no accountability. Why? Because one “bad apple” pushed him down but 20 “good apples” would have let him get away with it. It’s systemic.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) June 5, 2020
According to @JeffRussoWKBW a Buffalo Police Department spokesperson gave this statement in apparent reference to this?!
“during that skirmish involving protestors, one person was injured when he tripped & fell”
Are they aware cameras exist or?pic.twitter.com/86u5VmvbF2
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) June 5, 2020
4. Two Officers Suspended Without Pay
Police announced that two of the officers were suspended without pay–they were the ones blamed for the incident. Cops did not identify them.
Rinaldo said that the “tripped” description was from other officers who were standing behind the two now-suspended police. They were described as not being directly involved.
But the release of the video led to the immediate suspension of the two officers once Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood was told about the footage, Rinaldo said.
5. Prosecutors Say They’re Investigating
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office said they are looking at the incident.
We will provide an update as the investigation progresses.
— Erie County DA (@DAErieCountyNY) June 5, 2020
“I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood,” said Brown. “He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay.”
— Byron W. Brown (@MayorByronBrown) June 5, 2020
“The completely unwarranted use of force by police in front of Buffalo City Hall last night is a call to action for our city and country,” U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-New York, 26th District) said. “Videos are exposing unchecked bad actors and the painful truth of what has been happening in our communities for far too long.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office is aware of the video.
[Screengrab via WBFO]
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