Fifty-seven police officers in the New York state have resigned from the crowd controllers team in Buffalo after being “disgusted” with the suspension of two of their own.
- The Governor says the district-attorney should investigate the incident for criminal liability
- 57 Buffalo officers resign from roles because two of their own were suspended for the incident
- The victim, 75-year-old Martin Gugino, is reportedly recovering in hospital
It comes as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says two suspended officers who were filmed pushing an elderly man to the ground should be fired.
The video, which has sparked outrage in the community, showed 75-year-old protester Martin Gugino being shoved to the ground by two officers in the city of Buffalo.
The video shows Mr Gugino’s head hitting the pavement, followed by bleeding from his ears.
Mr Gugino was hospitalised after the incident but is reportedly recovering.
The two officers have been suspended without pay pending an investigation, but this has sparked a revolt from the police squad.
Police union president John Evans of the Police Benevolent Association, told local television station WGRZ the 57 officers who resigned were disgusted by the treatment they were receiving.
“[The suspended officers] were simply executing orders,” he said.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he believed the Police Benevolent Association put pressure on officers in the tactical unit by threatening to withdraw support to them if they did not resign from that team.
“I don’t think unions should behave that way,” Mr Brown said on CNN.
“That was not an act to protect the worker. That was an act to intimidate police officers and to not protect the residents of our community.”
Meanwhile, Mr Cuomo has called for the officers to be dismissed.
“The Mayor of Buffalo suspended the police officers yesterday, immediately, and I believe the district-attorney is looking into it from a possible criminal liability point of view and I applaud the district-attorney for moving quickly,” he said.
“I would say I think the city should pursue firing. And I think the district-attorney should look at the situation for possible criminal charges.”
On social media the Governor said watching the video made him feel sick.
“When I saw the video from Buffalo, it made me sick to my stomach,” he wrote.
“Where was the threat? How can you walk by a person when there’s blood coming out of his head? It’s fundamentally inhumane [and] frightening.”
Erie County executive Mark Poloncarz said many police officers who “serve with honour”, were upset with the actions of law enforcement in Buffalo.
“I know they were angered and disturbed at what they saw themselves because it is unacceptable,” he said.
“Police and other law enforcement have a duty to serve and protect the public. We need them to be the guardians of the public, not warriors engaged in battle with the public.”
With 57 officers standing down from their crowd control duties, concerns have been raised about more possible flare-ups in Buffalo this weekend.
Mr Brown said contingency plans were in place to “ensure public safety”.
“I want people out in our community to know that people peacefully protesting will be protected,” Mr Brown said.
Additional state troopers will be in the city through the weekend to assist Buffalo police, according to a state police spokesman.