A lawyer for Martin Gugino—the 75-year-old man who was pushed by an officer in Buffalo amid demonstrations—said on Thursday that his client has suffered a brain injury.
“As most of you know, Martin is a soft-spoken but thoughtful and principled man. As heartbreaking as it is, his brain is injured and he is well aware of that now,” attorney Kelly Zarcone said in a statement to several news outlets.
Gugino is “encouraged and uplifted by the outpouring of support which he has received from so many people all over the globe,” Zarcone said. “It helps. He is looking forward to healing and determining what his ‘new normal’ might look like.”
A video of the incident showed Gugino approaching riot police during a protest in the Western New York city as officers told him to move before one of them pushed the elderly man. He then appeared to stumble backward and hit the ground.
A group of officers is then seen walking past him as confusion ensues. After around 10 seconds, what appear to be medics came to render aid to him.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told news outlets this week that Gugino was “asked to leave numerous times … after the curfew.”
“One of the things that happened before was conflict among protesters and there was a danger of fights breaking out, and police felt it was important to clear that scene for the safety of protesters,” said Brown.
He said two officers involved were suspended, and an investigation is underway. Medics attended to Gugino “within seconds” and said that the riot officers are trained to move in a formation, the mayor noted.
“We saw violence, we saw vandalism, we saw fires being set, we saw looting, we saw rioting,” Brown said. “And I imposed a curfew for eight o’clock to prevent that kind of violence and danger to our community.”
President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter about whether Gugino “could be an Antifa provocateur.”
“I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” he asked. The comment drew condemnation from Democrats.
Zarcone told TMZ that Gugino isn’t part of Antifa, a far-left militant organization that espouses violence to achieve political goals.
“Martin is out of ICU but still hospitalized and truly needs to rest. Martin has always been a peaceful protestor because he cares about today’s society,” Zarcone said in a statement. “No one from law enforcement has suggested otherwise.”
Brown announced Wednesday that his office would reform policing in the city.
“I am not in favor of defunding the police department,” Brown said in an afternoon news conference, according to the Buffalo News. “But I am in strong favor of reforming the police department.”
On May 30, a Black Lives Matter protest in Niagara, near Buffalo, turned violent as protesters committed arson, vandalism, and looting.