- Martin Gugino, 75, was shoved by officers in Buffalo, New York, during a June 4 protest. He lost balance, fell backward onto the footpath, and began bleeding from his ear.
- “As heartbreaking as it is, his brain is injured and he is well aware of that now,” Martin Gugino’s lawyer Kelly V. Zarcone told NBC News.
- WKBW reported that Gugino’s skull was fractured in the fall.
- Gugino can’t walk, but has begun physical therapy and “is looking forward to healing and determining what his ‘new normal’ might look like,” Zarcone said.
- The Buffalo Police Department originally said that Gugino was “injured when he tripped and fell.” Since then, two policemen have been charged with second-degree assault.
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Tens of thousands of people watched in horror as police officers in Buffalo, New York, shoved a 75-year-old protester and walked by him as he lay bleeding on the ground on June 4.
Martin Gugino, a Catholic activist and volunteer, sustained a brain injury, his lawyer Kelly V. Zarcone said in a statement to CNN.
The retired computer programmer ended up in intensive care with a fractured skull, ABC affiliate WKBW reported.
“As heartbreaking as it is, his brain is injured and he is well aware of that now,” Zarcone wrote.
Gugino, who is not yet able to walk, began physical therapy on Thursday, which Zarcone said is “definitely a step in the right direction.”
She said that Gugino “feels encouraged and uplifted by the outpouring of support which he has received from so many people all over the globe.”
“It helps,” Zarcone added. “He is looking forward to healing and determining what his ‘new normal’ might look like.”
Zarcone also described Gugino as “a soft spoken, but thoughtful and principled man” – a stark contrast to the way President Donald Trump’s characterization, which was as an “ANTIFA provocateur” who “fell harder than he was pushed.”
Trump’s baseless claims prompted Gugino’s friends to leap to his defence.
One of them, Mark Colville, told The Washington Post: “Martin has a passion for social justice. When he sees wrong he wants to be involved in making it right.”
The graphic video showing Gugino being thrown on the footpath was captured by NPR affiliate WBFO.
It is one of many documented incidents of police violence during protests that erupted nationwide over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Thousands have since taken to the streets across the globe to demand an end to exactly that sort of police behaviour as well as to decry systemic racism.
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
In the video, Gugino can be seen walking up to a group of officers in riot gear. Two officers responded by forcing him to move backward – one with his baton and the other by putting his hands on Gugino’s chest and shoving him.
Gugino lost his footing, stumbled, and landed hard on the pavement. Immediately, blood can be seen pouring out of his right ear. An initial statement from the Buffalo Police Department said a person was “injured when he tripped and fell” during a “skirmish” with other protesters.
The incident led to second-degree assault charges against officers Robert McCabe, 32, and Aaron Torgalski, 39, both of whom have pleaded not guilty.
Fifty-seven Emergency Response Team officers from the department then resigned en masse to protest McCabe and Torgalski’s suspension without pay.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo censured the officers’ actions as “fundamentally offensive and frightening” and said the way Gugino was treated “disturbs your basic sense of decency and humanity.”
“Why? Why? Why was that necessary?” Cuomo asked. “Where is the threat? Older gentleman and where was the threat? Then you just walk by the person when you see blood coming from his head?”
The governor said the incident also made him wonder, “Who are we? How did we get to this place?”
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