BUFFALO, N.Y. — Charges against two Buffalo police officers involved in an incident with a 75-year-old protester in Niagara Square last June have been dismissed.
Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe have had felony assault charges against them dismissed, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced Thursday.
Video from the incident gained national attention in the wake of George Floyd's death.
DA Flynn says the charges were considered a felony due to the protester, Martin Gugino, being over 65 and the officers being more than 10 years younger.
Flynn adds that a grand jury with over 20 people made the decision and the video was the main piece of evidence.
There are no further charges against the officers.
Flynn made it clear Gugino should not have been involved with the officers but admitted he did break the law that day.
"He violated curfew, he had no business approaching those police officers, he had no business being on those steps at all or there at City Hall," he said.
Spectrum News spoke to Gugino following the announcement. He said it was a little surprising but he still defends his actions in Niagara Square that day. He says it comes down to First Amendment rights and tackling policing issues.
"People were coming in to complain to the government, Black Lives Matter, a completely legitimate protest, did it endanger anything? No. What is the need to stop it? What if they wanted to go on for four days? Yeah, let them. There's no reason for police to break that up short of them thinking they're some kind of lawless action about to take place or imminent, clear and present danger to somebody over something, no. And the police need to know that," Gugino said.
The Buffalo Police Department says both officers remain suspended pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation.