Gugino’s attorneys say he was peaceable throughout protest

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Martin Gugino

BUFFALO (WBEN) – Two weeks after a grand jury dismissed charges against the officers who pushed 75-year-old Martin Gugino to the ground during a protest in Niagara Square, Gugino has filed a lawsuit against the City of Buffalo and the officers involved in the incident.

“Martin Gugino filed this lawsuit to protect his constitutional rights and the constitutional rights of all his fellow citizens, especially the right to peacefully protest in a public place,” said Gugino’s attorney Richard Weisbeck.

On July 4, the incident was caught on camera – it showed Gugino approaching officers past curfew, and that’s when Officers Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe are seen pushing Gugino to the ground.

Gugino suffered a fractured skull and spent about four weeks in the hospital.

“If a citizen is on a street or a sidewalk, and he or she is acting peacefully, the state, the government, police officials, cannot use violence and cannot assault that citizen,” said Weisbeck. “Martin Gugino was a peaceful citizen at the time he was assaulted by the government.”

The argument as been made that Gugino should never have approached the officers in the first place – a notion dismissed by Weisbeck.

“Everybody has the right to approach a police officer to speak to that police officer,” he continued. “Martin Gugino didn’t have a weapon, didn’t say anything threatening, so police officers should expect citizens to walk up to them to speak to them, and that’s an absolute right that a citizen has.”

Attorney Melissa Wischerath also represents Gugino in this case, and she added that the city’s Emergency Response Team should have even been in Niagara Square in the first place.

“The deployment of the militarized Emergency Response Team to clear the square of three peaceful citizens and one reporter who happened to be sitting on the steps in and of itself was unconstitutional and not necessary,” she said. “There was no reason that a militarized team needed to be out that evening.”

The defendants in the lawsuit have 21 days to respond to the lawsuit, and Wischerath noted that the legal process in this case could take anywhere from one to two-and-a-half years.

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