Two Buffalo Cops Suspended After Shoving An Elderly Man, Police Had Claimed He “Tripped And Fell” [VIDEO]

Buffalo’s NPR affiliate reports:

Shortly after Buffalo’s curfew started Thursday evening, city police and State Police swept through the area of Niagara Square directly in front of City Hall to clear the area where a protest was finishing.

An unidentified, 75-year-old man was shoved by two officers in the line. The man lost his balance and fell to the pavement, audibly hitting his head with blood running out from under his head. The man is in serious, but stable condition at ECMC as of Thursday night, reportedly with a concussion and lacerations.

A Buffalo Police spokesman issued a statement at 8:50 p.m. Thursday saying “a 5th person was arrested during a skirmish with other protestors and also charged with disorderly conduct. During that skirmish involving protestors, one person was injured when he tripped & fell.”

Buffalo’s ABC News affiliate reports:

Two officers have now been suspended without pay following an incident in Niagara Square following a protest. Our 7 Eyewitness News crew at the scene witnessed officers removing protesters in the area of City Hall after the 8 p.m. curfew.

While clearing Niagara Square, a 75-year-old man was injured. Police say he fell, but Mayor Byron Brown has since said he was “knocked down” by Buffalo police officers. Video captured by WBFO shows an officer pushing the man. Based on what we see in that video, the officer’s last name is “Torgalski.”

7 Eyewitness News went through police records, obtained by the I-Team, and we’ve identified him as Aaron Torgalski. Those records show he’s been on the force since 2014 and would be on the force six years this August.

The New York Times reports:

The video taken by WBFO, a local radio station, shows the man approaching a group of officers during a protest stemming from the death of George Floyd. After he stops in front of them to talk, an officer yells, “push him back” three times; one officer pushes his arm into the man’s chest, while another extends his baton toward him with both hands.

The man is seen flailing backward, landing just out of range of the camera, with blood immediately leaking from his right ear. The video shows an officer leaning down to examine him, but another officer then pulls the first officer away.

Several other officers are seen walking by the man, motionless on the ground, without checking on him. Fury among online supporters of the protests was heightened by the police department’s initial claim that the man “tripped and fell,” a description at direct odds with the video.

The Buffalo News reports:

“It sickens me,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said of the video in a tweet late Thursday. “This incident is wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Twitter. “Police officers must enforce – NOT ABUSE – the law,” Cuomo said in a tweet.

“The video was deeply disturbing and the actions taken were wrong,” Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement. “We need a prompt investigation and full accountability.”

By 11 p.m., less than two hours after it was posted, WBFO’s video had been viewed more than 11.5 million times on Twitter.  State Attorney General Letitia James tweeted that her office had been made aware of the video.

The clip has now been viewed 47 million times.