GRAPHIC: 75-year-old NY protester who was pushed to the ground files lawsuit against police, city

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 10:51 AM CST
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) – The 75-year-old man pushed to the ground during a protest in Buffalo, New York, last summer has filed a civil suit against the city, three officers and the mayor.

It comes after a grand jury dismissed felony assault charges against two officers earlier this month.

Martin Gugino’s encounter with police was caught on camera last June.

“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,” said Richard Weisbeck Jr., one of Gugino’s attorneys.

Now, Gugino has filed a civil suit against the three officers involved - Officers Robert McCabe, Aaron Torgalski, and John Losi – Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, Mayor Byron Brown and the City of Buffalo.

Felony assault charges against Torgalski and McCabe were dropped earlier this month.

“Martin Gugino wants to protect and reinforce his constitutional rights and the constitutional rights of all other citizens, especially the right to protest in public places,” Weisbeck Jr. said.

The lawsuit alleges Gugino’s constitutional rights were violated by officers using unlawful and unnecessary force.

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

The lawsuit also says a weeklong 8 p.m. curfew was unconstitutional and not fairly enforced.

“Peaceful protesters, regardless of whether or not a curfew is in effect or not, they have a right to still be in public places and petitioning their government,” said Melissa Wischerath, another attorney for Gugino.

“Martin and other people exercising their First Amendment rights were selectively treated. They were treated differently than other people that may have been outdoor dining on Elmwood or Hertel Avenue after 8 p.m.”

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

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