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Buffalo officers charged with assault in pushing of 75-year-old protester

Ryan Zunner/WBFO News
Buffalo police and firefighters crowd the entrance to Buffalo City Court Saturday morning before the arraignment of two police officers seen on video pushing an elderly protester.

The two Buffalo Police officers seen on a viral WBFO video pushing a 75-year-old protestor and causing injury Thursday night have been arraigned on felony assault charges.

The officers, Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski pleaded not guilty to the class D felony charges Saturday morning. The protestor, Martin Gugino, was seriously injured and remains hospitalized.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said after the arraignment that Gugino's age played a factor in the severity of the charges. The maximum sentence is seven years in prison.

Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe

The arraignment occurred at the Buffalo City Courthouse, where large crowds, consisting of city police officers and firefighters, stood outside in a show of support for the officers. Some even attempted to block media members' cameras, including by using umbrellas and blankets.

Not many counter-protestors showed up to confront the crowd. Cariol Horn, a former Buffalo police officer fired in 2006 for trying to stop a police brutality incident, was there with a bullhorn which drew many jeers an insults her way from the crowd of first responders. 

Another counter-protestor was approached by a uniformed Buffalo police officer, and told that he couldn't use a bullhorn in the city without a permit. About twenty minutes before this, a woman from the crowd used a bullhorn to rally support for officers Torgalski and McCabe, no uniformed oficer stopped her.

Mayor Byron Brown on Saturday said the police union behind the court protest will "be on the wrong side of history."

The officers' next appearance is scheduled for July 20 at 9:30 a.m.

(This story will be updated.)

Ryan Zunner joined WBFO in the summer of 2018 as an intern, before working his way up to reporter the following summer.