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75-year-old Martin Gugino files lawsuit against city, officers and mayor

Posted at 12:16 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 17:39:27-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old man seen being pushed to the ground during last June's protests in Niagara Square, has filed a civil suit against the City of Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown, Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, and Officers Robert McCabe, Aaron Torgalski, and John Losi.

Gugino's attorneys, Richard P. Weisbeck Jr., Melissa D. Wischerath and of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria Law Firm, have requested a jury trial.

"He was protesting against the police violence committed against black citizens and Martin then became a victim of that same state violence that he was protesting against," Weisbeck said.

The suit alleges the defendants violated the constitutional rights of Gugino by enforcing an unconstitutional week long curfew and by using unlawful and unnecessary force, despite Gugino having committed no crime.

"The use of unlawful force against a peaceful protester can never be justified. It is always illegal. Martin was peaceful," Weisbeck said.

"Peaceful protesters, regardless of if a curfew is in effect or not, they have a right to still be in public places," Wischerath said, "Martin and other people exercising their first amendment rights were selectively treated. They were treated differently than other people who may have been outdoor dining on Elmwood or Hertel Avenue after 8 p.m."

The lawsuit accuses Buffalo Police Officers McCabe, Torgalski and Losi of forcibly assaulting Gugino by shoving him to the ground without warning. It also says the defendants took action to conceal the conduct of those officers.

The lawsuit says Gugino's right to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, petition the government for redress of grievance, movement, unreasonable seizures and freedom from the unlawful use of force by government agents, and to due process of law were violated.

Earlier this month, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said a grand jury dismissed the charges filed against officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe who were charged with felony assault after the confrontation with Gugino at the Black Lives Matter protest.

Both the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Police Department say they do not comment on pending litigation. Martin Gugino said he could not comment either.