BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It was the night of June 4 in Buffalo’s Niagara Square, the Buffalo Police Emergency Response Team is ordered to clear the square of protesters, after Buffalo Mayor Byron brown established a curfew for the city after days of widespread protests and unrest.
Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski encounter 75 year-old Martin Gugino walking toward the.
Caught on camera, the officers are seen shoving the protester to the ground, as they carry out orders to clear the square.
According to the Buffalo Police Union, after that push, officer McCabe finished his paperwork duties to arrest Gugino for violating curfew.
7 Eyewitness News has obtained that arrest document. It says Gugino was arrested for violating curfew orders by Mayor Byron Brown.
It also says Gugino’s head injury happened “during the arrest.”
The Union says another protester was also arrested that night. But it’s what happened after all of this that has the Buffalo Police Union filing this complaint with he New York State Attorney General.
“It’s believed that Deputy Police Commissioner Joe Gramaglia called down to Central Booking and have the report technician negate or take out the arrest of Martin Gugino,” said BPD Union President John Evans.
Evans says the arrest document had then been destroyed and the arrest thrown out.
“I have a problem with the arrest of Mr. Gugino being wiped out,” he said. “I think it makes these guys look bad, because he did violate curfew. He was arrested, and to have that erased, I don’t think that’s correct.”
Evans also wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney J.P. Kennedy outlining his findings and asking for a full, independent investigation.
What’s unusual is that a Deputy Police Commissioner went in to interfere or re-review that arrest,” said Legal analyst Florina Altshiler. “Usually it wouldn’t go up that high up the chain. Usually the patrol officer’s direct supervisor review that arrest and sign off on it. It doesn’t go that high-up, but it can and there’s nothing wrong with a high-ranking official to say ‘we made a mistake let’s undo these charges,” she said.
Altshiler says usually these cases get referred to the District Attorney’s Office and the DA’s office decides to charge or not.
We contacted the city police department and a spokesperson says “Due to pending litigation, the city cannot comment on the circumstances surrounding the incident on June 4.”
Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were arrested and charged with felony assault for the push. Those charges were later dropped after an Erie County Grand Jury chose not to indict the officers.
They’re still on paid leave, and Evans says aren’t set to face their departmental charges until November.