Pushed protester Martin Gugino facing future of living with brain injury

The footage of an elderly protester left by riot police with blood gushing out of his ear horrified the world.

And now the lawyer for 75-year-old Martin Gugino has revealed the New York activist is facing a long road of recovery.

“I am not at liberty to elaborate at this time other than to confirm that his skull was fractured,” Mr Gugino’s lawyer Kelly Zarcone said in a statement.

“As heartbreaking as it is, his brain is injured and he is well aware of that now.

“While he is not able to walk yet, we were able to have a short conversation before he became too tired. He is appreciative of all of the concern about him but he is still focused on the issues rather than himself.

“He said, ‘I think it’s very unnecessary to focus on me. There are plenty of other things to think about besides me.’”

Ms Zarcone said Mr Gugino had started physical therapy, something she described as a “step in the right direction”.

A local news station from Buffalo in upstate New York caught the moment Mr Gugino was shoved by one officer with a baton and another with his hand after approaching the group of riot police earlier this month.

The horrific footage showed Mr Gugino stumbling backwards before falling flat on his back on the concrete with blood immediately beginning to pour out of his ear and onto the pavement.

The video was met with widespread condemnation after one of the officers attempted to squat down and help Mr Gugino but was pulled up by one of his colleagues with the rest of them marching past the bleeding, elderly man.

Two Buffalo tactical unit officers are also facing felony assault charges in relation to the push.

Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32, the two officers, were part of a special riot response squad called the Emergency Response Team (ERT).

The video also prompted the mayor of Buffalo, in upstate New York, to order that a new police unit without military gear and trained in civil rights handle peaceful demonstrations.

Mayor Byron Brown said the Public Protection Detail would receive training in freedom of speech and other rights and would “work with leaders and participants of future protests and demonstrations to ensure the safety and security of all people.”

“It has become apparent that meeting protesters with a tactical unit of officers does not lead to peaceful results,” Mr Brown said in a statement.

Buffalo will also halt arrests for low-level, nonviolent offences like marijuana possession and make it easier for the public to view police body camera video under measures Brown introduced as “a critical first step” in making Buffalo more inclusive and equitable amid nationwide calls for police accountability.

“We will shift policing in Buffalo away from enforcement and to a restorative model that promotes stronger community bonds, civic engagement and an end to young black men, black people, being caught in a cycle of crime and incarceration by consciously limiting their negative engagement with police,” Mr Brown said at a news conference.

The officers in the video were part of a crowd control unit that was effectively disbanded with the resignation of its nearly 60 other members in solidarity.

The Public Protection Unit that replaces it will work with any group that wants to peacefully protest, Mr Brown said.

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