NEW YORK - Video of a police officer appearing to shove an elderly protester who falls and cracks his head in Buffalo has drawn widespread condemnation.
Video from WFBO showed a Buffalo police officer appearing to push the 75-year-old man who walked up to police clearing Niagara Square around the 8 p.m. curfew Thursday. The man falls straight backward and hits his head on the pavement, with blood leaking out as officers walk past.
The video quickly went viral on social media, spurring outrage. Buffalo police initially said in a statement that a person “was injured when he tripped & fell,” WIVB-TV reported, but Capt. Jeff Rinaldo later told the TV station that an internal affairs investigation was opened. The police commissioner subsequently suspended two police officers without pay, Mayor Byron Brown said in a statement.
The mayor of the western New York city, who expressed he was “deeply disturbed” by the video, said the unidentified man was in “stable but serious" condition at a hospital.
“While it is early, thankfully he is expected to recover,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted shortly after midnight.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo endorsed the officers' suspensions, tweeting that what was seen on video was “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.” The office of State Attorney General Letitia James tweeted that they were aware of the video. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called for an investigation, according to a statement reported by WIVB-TV.
“The casual cruelty demonstrated by Buffalo police officers tonight is gut-wrenching and unacceptable," John Curr, the Buffalo chapter director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement, adding that it should be a “wake-up call” for city leaders to address police violence.
Calls and emails to Buffalo police from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday night hadn't been returned by Friday morning.