All 57 members of a police tactical unit have resigned from the team in protest at the suspension of two colleagues who were filmed shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground.
Two members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team were suspended on Thursday after a local radio station released video of the incident involving the protester.
But Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans said the pair were simply “following orders”.
“Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square,” he told The Buffalo News.
“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.”
Speaking to local TV station WGRZ, he said the team had quit the unit “in disgust because of the treatment of two of their members, who were simply executing orders”.
He said the 57 remain police officers, despite having stepped down from the unit. Footage of the incident emerged as protests over the killing of George Floyd continued across the US.
The video shows the elderly man approaching a line of officers wearing riot gear. One officer pushes the man with a baton before a second man shoves him. The sound of a crack is heard as the man falls backwards and hits the ground and blood trickles from his head.
Most of the officers march past after the man falls. The officer who pushed him with a baton initially leans over him before he is motioned away by a colleague. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the man was in stable but serious condition in hospital.
He said Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood ordered an investigation and suspended the two officers after seeing the video. “I was deeply disturbed by the video,” the mayor said in a statement.
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