All 57 members of the Buffalo police Emergency Response Team resigned in solidarity with the two officers who were suspended for pushing an old man, local law enforcement sources confirmed Friday.
As the unit was clearing the area in Niagara Square prior to the emergency curfew on Thursday, 75-year-old Martin Gugino, a well-known activist in Buffalo, approached the officers with a phone in his right hand and a helmet in his left, pointing to a baton of one of the officers.
After ignoring a nearby officer's command to move, the officer Gugino pointed to pushed him. Gugino lost his balance and falls backward, hitting the back of his head on the sidewalk.
Upon seeing blood pouring out of Gugino's ear, one officer attempts to check on him, but another officer motions him to keep moving.
John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, defended the officers' actions, saying they "were simply executing orders."
"Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square," Evans said. "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."
Evans also said the PBA stands "behind those officers 100%" and that the union would cover any legal fees for the officers' defense.
The 57 officers who resigned are still employed, although they are no longer a part of the Emergency Response Team, local media reported.
➡️ Go Further: Follow Disrn's full coverage of the protests and riots here.