Disturbing footage taken during a Buffalo, New York, protest shows police pushing a lone 75-year-old protester to the ground, causing him to hit his head on the concrete and bleed.
After an initial statement said the man “tripped and fell,” the police commissioner ordered an investigation and two officers were suspended without pay. The protester was hospitalized in serious condition.
Videos captured by local media organizations show a large group of officers closing in on Buffalo’s Niagara Square to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew amid scattered anti-racism protests in the area. The graphic footage offers a close-up look at the force some officers use on protesters, even when they’re peaceful.
As seen in the clips, a single protester approached the officers and began speaking to them. Two of the cops moved toward him, and at least one shoved him with his hand. The protester, a white man, fell to the ground and audibly hit his head on the concrete, where he lay still and began to bleed from his ear. The officers stopped to look at him until another officer stepped in and directed them to keep walking.
Warning: The videos below contain graphic content.
“One person was injured when he tripped & fell,” police said in a statement issued by the city that doesn’t match what’s shown in the videos.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) issued a statement late Thursday saying he was “deeply disturbed” by the incident and said the officers had been suspended without pay.
He also said the protester, who was not identified, was in stable but serious condition at Erie County Medical Center Hospital in Buffalo.
The Buffalo Police Department did not immediately return HuffPost’s requests for comment.
Katie Gibas, a Spectrum News producer who captured some of the footage, said the injured man was taken away in an ambulance and appeared to be alert. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, whose county contains Buffalo, confirmed on Twitter that the man was in serious but stable condition and said the footage he saw “sickens” him.
“Police officers cannot continue to hide behind the lie that they are protecting and serving,” the ACLU of New York said in a statement calling out “military-geared” police.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet that the incident was “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful,” and he had spoken with Brown about suspending the officers.
The protest in Buffalo was part of the swarm of demonstrations across the country. The demonstrations were sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month and the outrage over the racism and violence in law enforcement that disproportionately affects Black people. Police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, before and after curfews went into effect.
This is the second time this week Buffalo police have come under fire for aggressively responding to peaceful protesters. On Monday, video captured cops approaching a Black protester giving a TV interview with his hands up and tackled him to the ground.
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman and Liza Hearon contributed reporting.