On Friday (June 5), all 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned, according to Buffalo News. Those members have not quit the police department, but have stepped down from the tactical unit.
Their resignations came just hours after two members of the team were suspended without pay for pushing a 75-year-old protester to the ground as they were clearing the area in front of Buffalo City Hall to follow the city’s emergency curfew. The incident was caught on video and the victim appeared to become unconscious as blood flowed from one of his ears.
“Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square,” said Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans. “It doesn’t specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don’t know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.”
No charges have been filed against the two officers, but the Erie County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the incident and they may be prosecuted in the future. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the two officers to be fired and said that the graphic video of the elderly man being pushed made him “sick to my stomach.”
“It’s just fundamentally offensive and frightening,” Cuomo continued. “Who are we? How did we get to this place.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says the victim is in stable but serious condition. “I was deeply disturbed by the video as was Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood,” he said. “He directed an immediate investigation into the matter.”
The Police Benevolent Association is standing 100% behind the officers who were suspended. They will also cover their defense fees if charges were to be brought against them.