In any profession, there is one universal truth: if you don’t do your job, you probably won’t keep that job for long. That’s what Officer Aaron Torgalski of the Buffalo Police Department found out on Thursday after he failed to “protect and serve” a U.S. citizen, Martin Gugino, who was 75 years old and, instead, pushed him to the ground, opening a cut in the back of his head that began gushing blood.
According to multiple reports, all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team have resigned from the team as a show of support for the two officers who were suspended last night.
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
It was a shocking scene, and one that had viewers in an uproar. Torgalski and a second officer were immediately suspended.
According to one local news affiliate:
‘News 4 has learned the entire Buffalo Police Department Emergency Response Team has resigned from the team. That’s a total of 57 officers. We’re told this is a show of support for the officers who are suspended without pay after shoving 75-year-old Martin Gugino.They are still employed, but no longer on ERT.’
⚠️⚠️⚠️Officer Aaron Torgalski of Buffalo PD pushed a 75 year old man to the ground in Niagara Square today. Pushing him to the ground with excessive force caused a bleeding head wound. The police claimed he “tripped” and was injured. The officer is on immediate leave without pay pic.twitter.com/6QFCQwcgwd
— Ashlyn (@ashlyn3161) June 5, 2020
The officers’ show of support after one officer shoved a man to the ground and another pulled his fellow officer who tried to administer first aid away from the man makes the biggest problem in police reform evident: it doesn’t matter if it’s “one bad apple” on the police force, what matters is how the rest of the officers deal with that apple. Police departments are notoriously unified in the face of an officer wrongdoing.
Update from @MayorByronBrown — The protester is a 75-year-old man. He is in stable but serious coundition.
— Adrienne Smith (@AdrienneSmithTV) June 5, 2020
The city’s mayor, Byron Brown, issued a statement following the release of the video saying:
‘I was deeply disturbed by the video, as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood. He directed an immediate investigation into the matter, and the two officers have been suspended without pay. After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight’s event was disheartening.’
BREAKING: 57 police officers on the Buffalo police depts emergency response team have resigned in support of 2 cops suspended last night for shoving an elderly man to the ground. The officers’ remains on the police force just not on the specialized team.https://t.co/hflo87Yu09
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 5, 2020