By Madison Gilliam
Buffalo, NY (AP) — All 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department emergency response team quit in opposition to the suspension of two officers involved in the hospitalization of a 75-year-old activist during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Following George Floyd’s death in Michigan, various cities have held protests to combat police brutality. Martin Gugino, is shown in the now viral video getting pushed down by an officer and hits his head on the pavement causing serious injuries.
The officer stops to try to help him but is urged by fellow officers to keep walking. The video, which was taken on June 4th and had over 67 million views by the 5th, has been on various news sites as well as social media platforms.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has visited with Gugino in the hospital and has said that Gugino posed no threat, and that the officer’s “excessive” violence was not necessary. Cuomo commended the Buffalo mayor for suspending the two officers without pay and mentions, “Where are we? How did we get to this place?”.
The Police Benevolent Association president John Evans said the resigning officers were very upset about the decision made by the police commissioner to officially suspend their two fellow policemen and believe that the two officers were just following direct orders from their superiors. These members did not quit their jobs completely, just from their roles in the response team.
This well-known incident raised concerns about other injuries in the area. One confrontation involved an officer shoving a smaller female where she also fell and hit her head like Gugino during a protest. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown wants his community to know that the people’s right to peaceful protest will be protected in their area.
Martin Gugino’s attorney, Kelly Zarcone, recently released a statement about his condition. She said, “Martin Gugino is still hospitalized, and his condition remains largely unchanged. He is in serious but stable condition”.
The two officers have been charged with assault felonies and the district attorney’s office is continuing to investigate the incident. If the officers are found guilty, they could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.