Speed Reads

use of force

Buffalo police officers who pushed 75-year-old protester cleared by arbitrator

Two Buffalo police officers have been cleared by an arbitrator after they pushed a 75-year-old man to the ground during a racial justice demonstration. 

In June 2020, amid racial justice protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a viral video showed two police officers in Buffalo, New York, pushing an elderly man, who fell to the ground and hit his head. The man, Martin Gugino, was hospitalized and suffered a fractured skull. An arbitrator has now ruled the officers didn't violate the police department's use-of-force guidelines, The Associated Press reports

"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," the arbitrator said, adding, "The use of force employed by respondents reflected no intent on their part to do more than to move Gugino away from them." 

The arbitrator also ruled that Gugino didn't comply with commands to leave and that he "appears to have not been able to keep his balance for reasons that might well have had as much to do with the fact that he was holding objects in each hand or his advanced age," per Axios

The two officers, who were clearing the area of protesters due to a curfew, were suspended without pay in 2020 after the incident, but charges against them were dropped last year. According to the AP, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told the Buffalo News the officers will be reinstated, while an attorney for Gugino said this ruling does not affect his lawsuit against the city.