Two Buffalo, NY police officers have been cleared of wrongdoing for shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground during a June 2020 protest.
Footage showed officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe shoving 75-year-old activist Martin Gugino to the ground as they were clearing out space in front of the local city hall. The clip soon spread across the nation amid George Floyd protests as an apparent example of police abusing use-of-force.
Torgalski and McCabe were suspended and charged with second-degree assault at the time, charges that were dropped following a grand jury inquiry. An arbitrator has now cleared four departmental charges against the two men.
“Upon review, there is no evidence to sustain any claim that respondents (police officers) had any other viable options other than to move Gugino out of the way of their forward movement,” wrote arbitrator Jeffrey Selchick, according to the Buffalo News.
Footage show Gugino motionless on the ground following the incident as a pool of blood grew beneath his head. It would be weeks before he recovered from the incident, and he sued the city soon afterward.
Gugino’s lawsuit is unaffected by the arbitrator’s Friday ruling, according to Melissa Wischerath, an attorney representing Gugino
“We are not aware of any case where this arbitrator has ruled against on-duty police officers, so his ruling here on behalf of the police was not only expected by us, but was certainly expected by the union and city who selected and paid him,” Wischerath told Buffalo News.
Both Torgalski and McCabe returned to regular duty on Monday.