Nearly 650,000 Sign Petition to Fire Buffalo Police Officer Aaron Torgalski Who Shoved Elderly Protester

About 650,000 people and counting have signed a petition demanding the Buffalo Police Department fire officer Aaron Torgalski, who was recorded on video last week shoving an elderly man to the ground as he attempted to hand back a helmet.

The petition is one focal point of efforts from anti-police brutality protesters around the country who are responding to the mass resignation of 57 officers from the city's Emergency Response Team in solidarity with officers Torgalski and Robert McCabe. The two were each charged with one count of second-degree assault and both have pleaded not guilty despite the video recorded by a local WBFO-TV reporter. All 57 members of the unit resigned after the two men were suspended without pay.

Looking to push back on their efforts and to support the charges against Torgalski and McCabe, a man named Taylor Marquis started the Change.org petition hoping to ensure at least Torgalski is permanently removed from his position on the police force.

"Aaron Torgalski pushed an elderly man who was trying to return an officers [sic] helmet he found clearly," the petition posted Friday reads. "Torgalski was clearly abusing his power as a police officer for NO REASON. Other officers were encouraging officer Torgalski to push him. 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! Fire him! And the others invovled!!! [sic] If we get enough people to sign they can't ignore us. They should be fired! This man makes $80,000 a year to push an old man who did not provoke him. END POLICE BRUTALITY," the petition concludes.

Hours after the petition was posted, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn formally filed the charges against the two Buffalo police officers. As of Monday morning, about 650,000 people have signed the petition calling for Torgalski to be fired. The petition has a goal of one million signatures.

"This dude is why the country is on fire," reads one of the petition's top comments, responding to the video of the elderly man being shoved and bleeding from his ear after hitting the ground. "Fire him! Charge him! And the other cop too with the baton."

When asked about the resignations of the 57 police officers, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told NPR, "We have a contingency plan. We always have a contingency plan."

For the time being, Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood reminded the public that the department is continuing to protect the city's residents and that the "resignations" of the 57 police officers, in reality, means they are currently under reassignment to other beats.

Buffalo Police
Buffalo police officers are shown talking to an elderly protestor, before the elderly man was shoved to the ground, on June 4, 2020. WBFO / Twitter

Newsweek reached out to the city's police union for additional remarks Monday morning.