BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The work of police departments across the country has come under fire in recent weeks.
Now, here in Buffalo two officers are facing felony assault charges after a caught on camera incident involving a protester.
“The DA is pressing assault second charges on that incident? That’s insane,” said Buffalo Police Union President John Evans. “We have a job to do, you order us to do it, now where’s the backing? Where’s the support,” Evans said of the Department, who he feels has not come out in support of the officers.
Evans says officers with the Emergency Response Team were executing an order to clear the area when curfew started Thursday night, and doing what they are trained to do. Evans says in the case of the ERT, which largely deals with protests, riots, and mass gatherings the use of force is used to execute an order.
Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe are now facing felony assault charges. Evans says many Buffalo Police Officers now feel on edge.
Hannah Buehler asked, “Do officers feel that they can do their job accurately in the Buffalo Police Department?”
Evans replied, “No. Not under this current structure, no. With these arrests, the atmosphere changed measurably. You can’t do your job when you have so much to lose.” He went on to say, “It’s unfortunate that he (the protester) got hurt, but it’s the job.”
On Friday, all 57 members of the Emergency Response Team resigned. Evans told us it was a show of support for the officers suspended without pay. But some members of ERT told 7 Eyewitness News they resigned because the union is no longer backing its members by paying legal fees if they get in trouble.
“If he (DA John Flynn) were to charge each officer that shoved someone…we’re broke. There’s 57 officers they could have easily shoved someone with their baton in their hand and therefore constitute that…that’s insane. It would break the union.”
As for officers Torgalski and McCabe, Evans says those two officer are standup guys both on and off the job.
“Their intention was never to hurt this guy,” he said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood released the following statement to 7 Eyewitness News:
“I stand by my officers. They have worked tirelessly during these challenging times that our city and country are experiencing. I thank the men and women for their dedication and commitment each and every day.”