Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.

Police officers in Buffalo, New York used excessive force to disperse a protest against police brutality on Thursday, shoving a 75-year-old protester who posed no threat to them so hard that he fell to the ground and sustained a bloody head wound.

Although the incident took place outside Buffalo’s City Hall, in daylight and in full view of witnesses, including at least five journalists, the Buffalo Police Department initially said in a statement that, during a “skirmish involving protestors, one person was injured when he tripped & fell.”

However, that account of what happened was quickly revealed to be a lie. Just over 20 minutes after the police statement was made public, the local NPR affiliate WBFO released distressing video of the incident, which clearly showed that the man only fell to the sidewalk in Niagara Square and hit his head because two officers he tried to talk to shoved him roughly.

Although the elderly man hit his head hard on the pavement, and immediately began bleeding from his ear, one officer who had pushed him was stopped from aiding him by another officer who pushed him toward a younger protester, who was sitting on the city hall steps holding a “Black Lives Matter” sign. None of the other officers made any immediate effort to help the injured man. One officer did, however, order the reporter who was filming the incident, Mike Desmond of WBFO, to clear the area.

The injured man was hospitalized in serious, but stable condition, according to local officials. He was identified to The Washington Post as the veteran activist Martin Gugino by the group People United for Sustainable Housing Buffalo.

The Intercept has not been able to independently confirm the man’s identity, but earlier on Thursday, Gugino had tweeted a photograph of an event in Niagara Square at which state and local officials called for police reform.

Video of the incident recorded from across the street by a photojournalist named Anthony Nelson showed just how disproportionate the forceful police action to clear the square was. As the 8 p.m. curfew passed, the officers advanced in military formation despite facing just a handful of protesters

About 90 minutes after the close-up video was posted online, and prompted national and international condemnation, the mayor of Buffalo, Byron Brown, announced that the two officers had been suspended without pay, pending an investigation.

Brown, however, appeared to endorse the police perspective that force was required to clear the square. The man was injured, Brown wrote, “after a physical altercation between two separate groups of protesters participating in an illegal demonstration beyond the curfew.” There was no evidence in the videos from the scene of any altercation before the police surged forward at the few protesters who remained in Niagara Square. An earlier demonstration, demanding justice for George Floyd, the black security guard murdered by a white police office in Minneapolis, had ended peacefully, after fist bumps between police officers and protesters.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a more forceful statement than the city’s mayor. “Simply put, the officers must be held responsible for their actions, not just fired,” he wrote on Twitter.

The incident, just one of dozens of examples of excessive force caught on camera in the past two weeks, stirred outrage both because the target was an elderly, peaceful protester and because the initial police statement made it obvious that the incident would have been covered up but for the presence of a witness with a video camera.

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Robert Mackey | Radio Free (2021-11-30T02:10:38+00:00) » Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.. Retrieved from https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/.
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" » Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.." Robert Mackey | Radio Free - Friday June 5, 2020, https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/
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Robert Mackey | Radio Free Friday June 5, 2020 » Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.., viewed 2021-11-30T02:10:38+00:00,<https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/>
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Robert Mackey | Radio Free - » Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.. [Internet]. [Accessed 2021-11-30T02:10:38+00:00]. Available from: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/
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" » Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.." Robert Mackey | Radio Free - Accessed 2021-11-30T02:10:38+00:00. https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/
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" » Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied.." Robert Mackey | Radio Free [Online]. Available: https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/. [Accessed: 2021-11-30T02:10:38+00:00]
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» Buffalo Police Said Protester With Head Wound “Tripped and Fell.” Video Shows They Lied. | Robert Mackey | Radio Free | https://www.radiofree.org/2020/06/05/buffalo-police-said-protester-with-head-wound-tripped-and-fell-video-shows-they-lied/ | 2021-11-30T02:10:38+00:00
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