Editor's Note: This piece contains graphic content.
Right after the 8 p.m. curfew in Buffalo, NY, police decked out in riot gear commenced a sweep of Niagara Square, near city hall. As they approached a group of protesters, an elderly man approached the officers and argued with them. When he refused to back up, one of the officers appeared to push him, which caused him to stumble and fall. As he hit the concrete, a loud thud could be heard. Some described it as "a thunderous thud." He then started bleeding out of the back of his head or ear. It's all on video.
I've included the footage below, but please keep in mind that both the video and audio are graphic and disturbing.
*(Warning: GRAPHIC CONTENT)*
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT Video shows two police officers in Buffalo, New York, shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground. The sound of a crack is heard and blood trickles from the man’s head https://t.co/JOGKvPOjoD pic.twitter.com/TBqs4gelmi— Reuters (@Reuters) June 5, 2020
"That was very difficult to watch," Mayor Byron Brown reacted on WBEN news radio Friday morning. "Very distressing."
Thankfully, the elderly man is reported as "alert and oriented."
Those who have watched the video are outraged. And Buffalo police only made matters worse with their first statement about the incident, in which they asserted that the man "tripped and fell." The mayor admitted that was an erroneous statement and they corrected it once more information came out.
"It was gotten wrong," Mayor Brown admitted, later adding, "people need to understand the situations are fast moving" and it was initially wrong information put out.
Once the video evidence was provided to police management and they got a "clearer picture" of what occurred, they "took swift action" and suspended both officers without pay, Brown explained.
Brown added that there's video footage we didn't see. As the mayor noted, the Buffalo police force has a protocol in which the officers in the front line are supposed to let medical-trained officers provide First Aid when needed.
"So the officers in the front are not supposed to render assistance because right behind them, right by them, are others who are medics who are trained medically to provide assistance, and that is what happened," Byron said. "Assistance was provided to the gentleman that was pushed and fell, by others that were embedded with that grouping of officers that were right behind them. I don't think the cameras picked that up well."
Unlike the police killing of George Floyd, spectators appear to be torn about the Buffalo police incident. Most argue that the cop who pushed the man was absolutely in the wrong, while others maintain that the protester should not have threateningly approached the officers, even if he appeared feeble and did not seem to be a serious threat.
The Buffalo Common Council voted to decrease funding for the BPD by more than $3 million in the mayor's new budget. The legislation was proposed well before the Floyd protests began, however and, according to lawmakers, it was a financial decision to save the city money.
Buffalo has been the site of several incidents that have made national headline news in the past 11 days of riots and protests that have broken out since the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd. Last weekend, rioters ran over three police officers in an SUV, one of whom suffered a shattered pelvis. A few nights before that, one looter (or "idiot" as the mayor called him) threw a flaming object through a city hall window. Because of the unrest, Mayor Brown enforced an 8 p.m. curfew in the city until this Monday.