Two police officers are no longer facing felony charges after a Buffalo, New York, grand jury declined to indict them for pushing a 75-year-old man during protests last summer.
Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski both faced second-degree assault charges after video was released showing Martin Gugino, who was protesting after the death of George Floyd, walking up to a police line before being shoved, causing him to fall backward and slam his head against the ground. Blood was seen coming from his ear.
The video soon went viral, and McCabe and Torgalski were soon suspended and charged with second-degree assault. The police department drew further national scrutiny when all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s emergency response team resigned in solidarity with the two officers.
Following Thursday’s grand jury decision, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said that he put his full effort into prosecuting McCabe and Torgalski, pushing back on any speculation that he might have thrown the case.
“I’ve got 28 years as a naval officer, and I live and breathe every day by the core values: honor, courage, and commitment,” Flynn said, according to CNN. “And integrity happens to be a big thing with me. And I’m sitting here right now talking into every one of these mics, looking at every one of these cameras right here, looking at each one of you in the eye right now, and I’m telling you that I sandbagged nothing.”
Flynn said he went into court intending to treat the two officers the same way as he would in prosecuting civilians accused of the same offense.
“I apologize for nothing,” he said. “I would not make any changes on any of my decisions going back to when this happened, OK? And yeah, I’m not going to tell you that, in my opinion, the right thing happened here because I still believe that a crime was committed.”
The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association praised the jury’s decision.
“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 PBA said.
The Washington Examiner reached out to Gugino’s attorney for a reaction but did not immediately receive a response.
The two officers remain suspended pending an internal investigation.