Who is Aaron Torgalski? Buffalo Police Officer Who Shoved 75-Year-Old Protester to the Ground Suspended

Two New York police officers have been suspended after a video showed them shoving an elderly man to the ground, causing him to bleed from the head.

Footage of the incident, which has been viewed more than 39 millions times on Twitter, shows the 75-year-old man approaching a line of Buffalo Police officers in riot gear.

The officers were dispersing the crowd of people who had gathered in Niagara Square to protest the death of George Floyd.

One of the officers then shoves the elderly man to the ground, while a second appears to push him with his baton.

The man then falls and hits his head on the sidewalk, causing him to start bleeding.

One officer crouches to check on the man before being pulled away by another officer.

Other members of the Buffalo Police Department then walk past the elderly man as he lays on the ground hurt.

The victim was later taken to hospital, where he is in a stable condition.

In their original statement to WBFO, Buffalo Police said that the 75-year-old was injured when he "tripped and fell" during a "skirmish" between officers and protesters.

Buffalo Mayor Brown said he is "deeply disturbed" by the incident while confirming the two officers seen in the clip have been suspended without pay and an investigation has been launched.

"After days of peaceful protests and several meetings between myself, Police leadership and members of the community, tonight's event is disheartening," Brown said. "I hope to continue to build on the progress we have achieved as we work together to address racial injustice and inequity in the City of Buffalo."

One of the officers has since been identified online as Aaron Torgalski, partly due to the name tag which is visible in the video.

A LinkedIn profile listing Torgalski as a Buffalo Police officer has since been deleted in the wake of the footage going viral.

There have been huge calls for Torgalski and the second officer to be fired from their jobs for pushing the elderly man, including from celebrities such as comedian Jim Gaffigan and singer Kacey Musgraves.

An online petition urging the officer be fired has since attracted more than 100,000 signatures.

"Torgalski was clearly abusing his power as a police officer for NO REASON," the change.org petition states.

"The push was strong enough to make the old man fall backwards and crack his head and start bleeding. Aaron Torgalski should not be in control of our safety! This man does not deserve a badge! This man should not be allowed to hold a gun and carry out the law."

Torgalski is reported to have been earning an annual salary of more than $80,000 at the department.

According to WBFO, Torgalski was one of 19 new recruits to have been sworn to begin their police academy training in August 2014.

Erie County Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the video of the man being pushed to the ground "sickens me."

He added: "While it is early, thankfully he is expected to recover. Simply put, the officers must be held responsible for their actions, not just fired."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomocondemned the incident involving the two officers as "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful."

In a statement, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) Buffalo chapter director John Curr said. "The casual cruelty demonstrated by Buffalo police officers tonight is gut-wrenching and unacceptable.

"Suspensions and an investigation are already in order, but there is little more we have to see to know what took place. Police officers cannot continue to hide behind the lie that they are protecting and serving.

"City leaders need to take this as a wake-up call and seriously address the police violence during this week's protest and the culture of impunity that led to this incident."

Buffalo Police have been contacted for further comment.

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(File photo) Demonstrators denouncing systemic racism in law enforcement march through the borough of Brooklyn minutes before a citywide curfew went into effect on June 4, 2020 in New York City. Two Buffalo Police officers have been suspended after a video showed them shoving an elderly man to the ground. Scott Heins/Getty
Who is Aaron Torgalski? Buffalo Police Officer Who Shoved 75-Year-Old Protester to the Ground Suspended | U.S.