BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Two Buffalo police officers have been charged with felony assault after video allegedly showed them pushing a protester to the ground.

Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski, who surrendered Saturday morning, pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault. They were released without bail.

Torgalski and McCabe are due back in court Monday, July 20. If convicted, they face up to seven years in prison.

Robert McCabe, left, and Aaron Torgalski (credit: Erie County District Attorney’s Office)

At a news conference Saturday, District Attorney John Flynn said the officers “crossed a line.”

Video taken Thursday shows police pushing 75-year-old Martin Gugino, who then falls and hits the back of his head on the pavement, causing him to bleed.

Gugino remains in critical condition, prosecutors said.

WATCH: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Gives Daily Briefing

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the situation “horrendous” and said there was no need to use force.

“I think there was criminal liability from what I saw on the video,” Cuomo said. “I think what the mayor did and the district attorney did was right, and I applaud them for acting as quickly as they did.”

He added that swift justice was called for.

“There’s no tolerance for delaying justice in society anymore,” Cuomo said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

The two officers were initially suspended, prompting dozens of Buffalo police officers to step down from a special unit in protest.

Fifty seven members of Buffalo’s Emergency Response Team quit the unit Friday, but didn’t resign from the department.

The police union says the suspended officers were just following orders.

Police initially claimed the man tripped.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (5)
  1. sherrlyn Marcelle says:

    The police union said they were doing what they were told to do and that is to assault an elderly man.

  2. giuzy55se says:

    State facendo inorridire il mondo intero, to serve and to protesta, Who?

  3. John Mullen says:

    What is even more shocking than Mr. Gugino being knocked to the ground it the police union’s justification for the behavior. “Just following orders” is known as the Nuremberg Defense. This argument was used by the Nazis as justification for their crimes. We all know how that ended up. The 57 officers who resigned from the group should be fired for this one reason alone.

  4. Bill says:

    Our police have been militarized, They arm themselves heavily and make “split-second decisions” when faced with no threat. But to read their reports it will say how the individual was armed to the teeth and was advancing while pointing the firearm at them. They are trained to kill and to write the ‘supporting’ report of the incident. After the incident they will have time to leave, consult an attorney before filling out the report or being interviewed.
    Time to change America’s law enforcement practices. We should no longer condone Police Riots and aggressive acts against individuals. The police should be working with the consent of the public, not as the public’s overlord.

  5. Mike says:

    I watched the footage on British TV and was totally shocked. But not surprised. These days police forces around the world are belligerent out of the box. It seems to be the mindset now. So many parallels with Nazi Germany where force was always the default position.

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