75-year-old protester pushed by Buffalo police files lawsuit against city, mayor and officers

Martin Gugino, the 75-year-old protester who was knocked to the ground by police officers last year in Buffalo, New York, filed a civil lawsuit against the city Monday, according to court documents.

Gugino is also suing Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown; officers Robert McCabe, Aaron Torgalski and John Losi; Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood; and Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, according to the document.

Gugino fractured his skull when he fell after the officers pushed him to the ground June 4, during a protest against racism and police brutality, his lawyers have said. Among the counts Gugino alleges in his lawsuit are unlawful use of force and violation of his right to freedom of movement.

Earlier this month, a grand jury decided not to indict Torgalski and McCabe for pushing Gugino. However, the two officers remain suspended pending the results of an internal investigation into the incident.

After the grand jury’s decision, Gugino told Spectrum News Buffalo, a CNN affiliate, he was “a little surprised” jurors did not indict the two officers.

“There’s no reason for the police to break that up, short of them thinking there’s some kind of lawless action about to take place, clear and present danger to somebody over something,” Gugino said. “It wasn’t really a curfew. It was an intent to suppress dissent.”

Gugino is accusing the defendants of violating his constitutional rights, specifically his rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, protest, movement, unreasonable seizures, freedom from the unlawful use of force by government agents, and due process of law, according to his lawsuit.

“You do not have freedom of speech unless you have freedom of protest,” said one of his attorneys, Melissa Wischerath, in the statement. “If any one person’s rights are suppressed by the state, it harms all of us by eroding the foundation of our constitution.”

Gugino’s attorneys told CNN they are requesting a jury trial.

CNN has reached out to the mayor’s office and Buffalo Police Department for comment on the lawsuit.

The Buffalo Police Benevolent Association declined to comment when reached by CNN on Monday.


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