Two Buffalo, New York, police officers were suspended Thursday after a video of officers pushing an elderly man to the ground in front of City Hall went viral. Police initially said a protester tripped and fell during the peaceful demonstration in Niagara Square, but the video made it clear the man was pushed by police in tactical gear. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz called the video "sickening" and said the man is now in the hospital.
Police first told WKBW that a protester was injured when he "tripped and fell," while witnesses said the man was pushed by police as they tried to clear the street in front of City Hall. WFBO later shared a video of the incident, and it quickly went viral, racking up over 9.6 million views in an hour. The video shows officers pushing the man, who then falls to the ground. People are overheard yelling that the man is bleeding from his ear.
After the video was published, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood told WKBW that the two officers involved in the video were suspended without pay. Police said they have another angle of the incident and are beginning an investigation. Poloncraz also tweeted the video "sickens me" and said the man is now in stable condition at Erie County Medical Center. "My thoughts are with him now," Poloncraz added.
Can’t unsee that video of the Buffalo PD. Completely unconscionable. Literally disgusted by it. And enraged that they said he “tripped and fell.” Shameful stuff.— Sam Stein (@samstein) June 5, 2020
Five people were arrested during Thursday's demonstrations in Buffalo, police told The Buffalo News. Four were charged with disorderly conduct for blocking traffic. A fifth person was charged with disorderly conduct for getting into a confrontation with other protesters. A police helicopter was seen hovering over the crowd. Police also wore gas masks and carried a dispersal agent, although most protesters left when the police first arrived wearing tactical gear. The city set an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew through Sunday.
Update: A BPD Spokesperson tells me these officers will be suspended WITHOUT pay. https://t.co/4KLtmqINqG— Marlee Tuskes (@MarleeTuskesTV) June 5, 2020
Niagara Square has been the gathering location for protests against police brutality in Buffalo. People started protesting Saturday, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was killed when a police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee until Floyd lost consciousness. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene watched Chauvin and did not stop him, and they have also been charged in Floyd's death.