What’s a brief history on this?
Video of the law enforcement officials went viral on the internet in June after they were seen shoving the man, 75-year-old Martin Gugino, who fell to the ground, where he was rendered unconscious and bleeding from the head.
Gugino, who had approached the officers ahead of the incident, was taken to a hospital for treatment and learned that he suffered a fractured skull and a brain injury.
Officers initially said that the man tripped and fell.
Following the incident, two officers involved in were charged with second-degree assault, a class D felony, and were suspended without pay. They pleaded not guilty at the time.
What are the details?
The Post on Thursday night reported that a grand jury has dismissed assault charges against two suspended Buffalo police officers who were seen shoving Gugino, who was reportedly violating a citywide curfew in order to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd.
During a Thursday press conference, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said that he anticipated backlash to the grand jury’s decision.
“All the evidence was presented at grand jury,” he said in remarks during the conference. “And the grand jury did their job. And so I apologize for nothing. I would not make any changes in any of my decisions, going back to when this happened.”
Flynn also added that Gugino “had no business approaching these police officers,” but he should not have been shoved.
“He should have been arrested, grabbed, and peacefully walked off the steps of city hall,” he added. “But again, that didn’t happen.”
The outlet reported that Flynn “repeatedly said he did not ‘sandbag’ the case that sparked both a public outcry against police violence and a rebellion within the Buffalo Police Department.”
“Dozens of officers resigned from a special squad over the decision to suspend Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe,” the Post added.
Captain Jeff Rinaldo of the Buffalo police said that both officers remain suspended pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation.
Gugino publicly responded to the decision, insisting that the decision will damage police-public relations.
In a statement to WBFO-TV, Gugino said, “It is important that the community be able to call 911. It is important for the black community to trust that 911 will be helpful when they need help.”
“When they call for help they will get help and I don’t think this decision demonstrates that even white lives matter,” he added.
He pointed out that he will respect the grand jury’s decision though he doesn’t necessarily agree with it.
“I think the DA charging the police is great, fine,” he said. “Do something, and if that’s what you want to do, fine. And if the jury wants to say no, well, fine. That’s their job. I mean, I don’t criticize them; I just think something was wrong there, something happened and everybody knows it. It was bad, and we don’t seem to know what to do about it.”
“Martin Luther King said the moral arc of the universe is long and it bends toward justice,” Gugino continued. “And it bends towards justice because everyday people go out and try to do something that is right. Eventually you will prevail and it is a long road. We don’t have that much time left, but it is a long road. And of course, every day you should be as good as you can be … no matter what the situation, but it is especially important now.”
Gugino told Spectrum News Buffalo, “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.”