Criminal charges have been dropped against two police officers seen on video last spring shoving 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino to the ground in Buffalo, New York, prosecutors said Thursday. A grand jury declined to indict Buffalo Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski on felony assault charges, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said, ending a matter that drew national attention at the height of protests over the police killing of George Floyd, the AP reports. John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, told the Buffalo News: "Obviously, we are ecstatic with their decision. These officers have been put through hell and I look forward to seeing them back on the job." Gugino, pushed backward, started bleeding after hitting his head on the pavement and spent about a month in the hospital with a fractured skull and brain injury.
Flynn, echoing earlier statements, said he didn't necessarily feel that altercation rose to the level of a felony but that state law required prosecutors to bring such a charge when a victim is at least 65 and the suspected perpetrators are at least 10 years younger. Addressing criticism that he slow-played or "sandbagged" the case, Flynn said prosecutors made a thorough presentation to the grand jury but, citing secrecy rules, said he couldn’t discuss what witnesses were called or what evidence was presented. The grand jury heard the case on a delayed basis because of coronavirus-related court closures, he said. The Buffalo Police Department will now begin an internal affairs investigation, a development that had been on hold because of the criminal case.
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