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Charges dismissed against 2 Buffalo Police officers who shoved protester in June

Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, had been virtually arraigned on June 5 with assault in the second degree, a Class D felony.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Charges against the two Buffalo Police officers involved in a June incident where a protester was shoved to the ground have been dismissed, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn announced Thursday.

Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, had originally been charged with assault in the second degree, a Class D felony.

A city spokesperson said Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo says the officers are "still suspended pending the conclusion of the internal investigation."

Flynn, at the time, said there was a specific penal law subsection in New York State that says if the victim is 65 years old or older and the perpetrator is 10 years younger, it's a felony.

Martin Gugino was shoved by a Buffalo Police officer during a protest in downtown Buffalo in June of 2020. He suffered a fractured skull when he fell to the ground after he was pushed.  The incident was caught on video by a reporter. 

Both officers involved in the incident were quickly placed on administrative leave from the Buffalo Police Department. It's unknown if they will be reinstated. 

Gugino spent several days in the hospital with a head injury. He has since recovered. 

Flynn said the grand jury investigation took so long because the grand jury was shut down due to the COVID pandemic, and when it resumed again, Flynn said he had higher priority cases to tend to.

John Evans, the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, issued a statement following Flynn's announcement.

"The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association is extremely pleased with today’s decision by a grand jury to dismiss charges against Buffalo Police Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski," he said.

"As we have stated all along, Officers McCabe and Torgalski were simply following departmental procedures and the directives of their superiors to clear Niagara Square despite working under extremely challenging circumstances. The Buffalo PBA remains in staunch support of Officers McCabe and Torgalski."

2 On Your Side will have more on this story on Channel 2 News Tonight at 11 p.m.