Protester, 75, sues city of Buffalo, police department after case dismissal

Martin Gugino suffered a fractured skull from the incident, which was captured on a now-viral video.

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In a viral video taken over the summer, a 75-year-old man was seen being pushed down by officers from the Buffalo Police in Niagara Square during a protest. 

Martin Gugino reportedly suffered a fractured skull from the incident, in which two police officers shoved him to the ground. He spent almost a month in the hospital recovering for his injuries.

Martin Gugino, 75, a protester pushed by Buffalo Police officers in Niagara Square last summer, has filed a federal court lawsuit against the city and police officers. (WGRZ)

“You can’t suppress dissent. You cannot suppress dissent. So you can’t use a curfew to suppress dissent. It was only really enforcement in that one area for that one thing just to get the people out of there. But you can’t do that,” said Gugino at the time, according to NBC.

Read More: Why is the city of Detroit countersuing protesters after violent encounters with police?

Charges against Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe, the two officers involved in the altercation, were dismissed earlier this month, but now, Gugino is taking matters into his own hands and has filed a lawsuit against Buffalo.

The suit accuses those two cops, the city of Buffalo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood, Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia and Officer John Losi of violating Gugino’s civil rights, according to court filings.

Gugino says in his lawsuit that the officers used unlawful and unnecessary force and that they had severe reactions to lawful protesters. He claims the officers had a part in suppressing the “exercise of his constitutional rights.” 

“The five freedoms enshrined in the first amendment — speech, religion, press, assembly and protest — are clustered together because they are interconnecting. You do not have freedom of speech unless you have freedom of protest,” said Melissa Wischerath, one of Gugino’s lawyers. “By assaulting Martin Gugino as he peacefully protested in Niagara Square, the City and BPD attacked Martin Gugino’s most fundamental rights as an American.”

Read More: Kentucky police officer terminated for providing BLM protesters with information

“If any one person’s rights are suppressed by the state,” she continued, “it harms all of us by eroding the foundation of our constitution.”

Former President Donald Trump took to Twitter at the time of the encounter and called Gugino an ANTIFA provocateur. He accused Gugino of trying to interfere with police equipment and implied that his injuries were falsified. 

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