KEY POINTS

  • Two police officers were recorded pushing the 75-year-old man to the ground while breaking up protesters outside Buffalo City Hall
  • Buffalo police initially said the man "tripped and fell" before the video emerged online but later said an internal affairs investigation would be opened
  • The video has drawn criticism to the handling of the situation by state and local officials in New York

The mayor of Buffalo, New York, said two police officers were suspended without pay after a video emerged online of the officers pushing a 75-year-old man to the ground. The altercation took place outside Buffalo City Hall as police were trying to break up George Floyd protests on Thursday.

The video first appeared on the Twitter account for NPR Buffalo-affiliate WBFO around 9 p.m. Thursday. The older man, whose name has not been released, can be seen bleeding from the ear after falling and hitting his head on the ground. The man is believed to have suffered a concussion and was taken to Erie County Medical Center.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said the man was in “serious, but stable condition”

GRAPHIC VIDEO WARNING:

WBFO reported the man approached police officers on the the steps of City Hall as the protests were breaking up about 8 p.m.

“He walked a little bit, was standing there, and was hit with a club as far as I can tell,” the reporter Mike Desmond said. “He lost his footing after he was hit, fell back, hit his head on the concrete ... and I could hear his head hit and then within a few seconds, blood started coming out from under his head.”

Buffalo police initially said the man was hurt when he “tripped and fell.” However, Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo later said an internal affairs investigation would be opened against the officers after the video appeared online.

The video has drawn sharp criticism from several state and local officials in New York.

“The casual cruelty demonstrated by Buffalo police officers tonight is gut-wrenching and unacceptable,” John Curr, the Buffalo chapter director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. He also referred to the incident as a “wake-up call” for Buffalo officials to address police brutality.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Brown shared statements on the altercation on Twitter.

Protesters hold up their phones during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, outside the White House in Washington, DC Protesters hold up their phones during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, outside the White House in Washington, DC Photo: AFP / Eric BARADAT