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Prosecutors drop charges against Buffalo officers who shoved activist aside during 2020 protests

New York law required prosecutors to bring charges when victim is at least 65, suspected perpetrator at least 10 years younger.

Updated: February 12, 2021 - 9:30am

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Prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against two Buffalo police officers seen on video shoving a protester out of the way during last year’s social justice protests. 

The charges were dropped after a grand jury on Thursday declined to indict Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski on felony assault charges, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told the Associated Press.

The June 2020 incident drew national attention as protests across the county, following the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, resulted in police and demonstrators clashing.

The video appears to show Martin Gugino, a long-time activist, walking into the path of a police tactical unit and officers shoving him out of their way, resulting in the 75-year-old male falling backward and hitting his head. 

The officers were trying to clear demonstrators from outside of city hall ahead of an 8 p.m. curfew. Gugino spent about a month in the hospital with a fractured skull and brain injury.

Messages seeking comment were left with Gugino and lawyers representing the officers, the wire service also reported.

Flynn has said he didn't necessarily feel that altercation rose to the level of a felony but that state law required prosecutors to bring such a charge when a victim is at least 65 and the suspected perpetrators are at least 10 years younger.

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