BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown released a statement Saturday urging the community to come together after two police officers were charged with felony assault for shoving a 75-year-old man on Thursday.
“As a community, we must continue to bridge the gap between our law enforcement personnel and the many residents and peaceful protestors who I believe all want the same thing: a safe and equitable society, systematic reforms to eliminate prejudice and bias, and a unified City of Buffalo,” Brown said.
This comes after seven days of protests in the Queen City, sparked by the death of George Floyd, but fueled by allegations of brutality in Buffalo’s own police department when it was reported that “one person was injured when he tripped and fell” during a protest Thursday, but later, officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were caught on video pushing Martin Gugino.
Both officers were suspended without pay and have since been charged with second degree assualt.
“In reflecting on this situation, my administration believes this is an opportunity for the Buffalo Police to reform and further progress into the Community Police Officer Model that Commissioner Lockwood has been steadfastly implementing,” Brown said. “I have directed the commissioner to further engage the community as I do the same, so we can collaboratively and expeditiously realize our shared vision of a Police Department in which every officer is truly a community police officer.
Brown says his administration has taken many steps to improve city government over the years, particularly in the BPD and Fire Departments, in order to create a culture that is reflective of the neighborhoods they care for. That included changes to policing leadership, diversity, procedures and approaches.
“While the work is nowhere near complete, the City of Buffalo has been committed to this positive transformation for many years and it will be an even more urgent focus for us all.”
Brown says his administration believes in due process for the officers and he will continue to pray for the full recovery of the injured man.
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.