Two Buffalo police officers who shoved an elderly man to the ground during a protest Thursday night, putting him in serious condition, have been suspended immediately without pay, police commissioner Byron Lockwood announced Friday.
As an anti-racism protest ended in Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall just before the city’s curfew started Thursday evening, city law enforcement and state police moved through the area and pushed protesters back.
An unidentified 75-year-old man can be seen on video approaching the officers, at which point he is shoved and loses his balance, falling backwards onto the pavement and hitting his head. Blood can immediately be seen leaking from his ear as onlookers urge officers to call an ambulance. Several officers continue to walk past the man.
Two EMTs treated the man, who suffered a concussion and lacerations and was taken to the hospital, where he remains in serious but stable condition as of Thursday night. He is expected to recover, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who said the video “sickens me.” The Erie County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident.
Buffalo Police said in a statement on the incident that “a 5th person was arrested during a skirmish with other protestors and also charged with disorderly conduct. During that skirmish involving protestors, one person was injured when he tripped & fell.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he was “deeply disturbed by the video” in a statement late Thursday night, calling it “disheartening” but noted that protesters were participating in an “illegal demonstration beyond the curfew.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the incident “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful” and said he spoke to the mayor about it.
The demonstration Buffalo officers were dispersing was one of many protests across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody last week after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes, including after Floyd passed out.