Buffalo police resign from team in support of officers suspended for pushing protester

Summer Lin

More than 50 Buffalo Police Department officers have resigned from an emergency response team on Friday in support of two officers who were suspended for shoving a protester on video.

The video, shot by NPR affiliate WBFO on Thursday, shows police officers yelling “move!” to a 75-year-old man during a protest. One officer is seen shoving the man, who falls to the ground and hits his head on the pavement.

The video shows someone shouting “He’s bleeding out of his ear!” and blood can be seen beneath the man’s head as officers continue to walk past him.

The man, Martin Gugino of Amherst, was treated by medics on the scene and is in “serious but stable condition,” according to WBFO. He reportedly has a concussion and lacerations.

Police initially issued a statement saying Gugino tripped and fell, Buffalo Police Department spokesperson Mike DeGeorge told CNN. When more videos were released, the statement was changed and Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood opened an investigation and suspended the two officers involved without pay, according to CNN.

The entire Emergency Response Team resigned in support of the two officers, the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association told WGRZ.

“Fifty-seven resigned in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders,” John Evans, PBA president, told the outlet.

Evans told The Buffalo News that the officers’ names have been released on social media and they are being harassed.

“We stand behind those officers 100%,” he told the newspaper.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday during a press conference that Buffalo should look into firing the officers involved.

“I would say I think the city should pursue firing [the officers],” Cuomo said, according to WIVB. “I think the DA should look at the situation for possible criminal charges. I think that should be done on an expeditious basis.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the city is aware of the resignations.

“The City of Buffalo is aware of developments related to the work assignments of certain members of the Buffalo police force,” he wrote on Twitter. “At this time, we can confirm that contingency plans are in place to maintain police services and ensure public safety within our community. The Buffalo police continue to actively work with the New York State Police and other cooperating agencies.”

Brown previously said he was “deeply disturbed” by the video.

“After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event is disheartening,” Brown said in a statement posted on Twitter. “I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequity in the City of Buffalo. My thoughts are with the victim tonight.”

National protests over George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody, entered their 11th day on Friday.

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was shown on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes, including nearly 3 minutes after he became unresponsive. Chauvin was arrested on May 29, according to the Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner.

Chauvin’s charges were heightened to second-degree murder Wednesday, McClatchy News reported. Chauvin was previously charged with third-degree murder. The other three Minneapolis officers on the scene of Floyd’s death have also been charged, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday.