Two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay Thursday after a video showed authorities knocking down a 75-year-old man during a protest, Mayor Byron Brown said.
In a statement, Brown said the suspension came after the city’s police commissioner launched an investigation into the incident. Brown did not identify the officers.
Brown said he was "deeply disturbed" by the video, which was published by the local National Public Radio affiliate, WBFO.
The man, who has not been publicly identified, is in serious but stable condition at a local hospital, Brown said.
In the video, which spread rapidly on Twitter on Thursday night, the man can be seen approaching a large group of officers in tactical gear and saying something. The officers yell for him to move back before one appears to push him.
The man stumbles backward and falls. Seconds later, a pool of blood can be seen near his head.
The incident occurred shortly after the city's 8 p.m. curfew, NBC affiliate WGRZ reported.
A Buffalo Police Department spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. WGRZ initially reported that the department said that the man, who has not been identified, was injured after he tripped and fell.
Mike Desmond, a reporter for WBFO, filmed the incident outside City Hall.
“At 8 o’clock ... a large number of police officers appeared. I assume that they wanted to do a sweep and get everybody out and there really weren’t many people,” he said.
A line of officers marched through, and the man, who Desmond said did not appear to be a protester, approached the officers. "He walked a little bit, was standing there, and was hit with a club as far as I can tell," 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," the reporter said.
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Officials condemned the incident. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the video "sickens me," while Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it "wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful."
"Police Officers must enforce — NOT ABUSE — the law," he said.
The video clip posted to Twitter by WBFO went viral Thursday night, adding to a growing number of clips of police reacting violently to protesters, in many cases when the demonstrators appear to be of little to no threat.
The original clip, uploaded by WBFO, had been viewed almost 54 million times as of Friday morning.