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Buffalo officers leave emergency response team after two cops suspended

Cuomo on police video and stopping abuses

Officers from the Buffalo Police Department have resigned from the department's emergency response team, police commissioner Byron Lockwood said Friday in a statement obtained by CBS affiliate WIVB, but they will remain on the force. The resignations come one day after two officers were suspended without pay after a viral video of a 75-year-old man being shoved by officers. The man then fell and hit his head on the pavement and is now in serious condition. 

"As a longstanding member of the City of Buffalo Police Department, I know that our officers are fully committed to serving and protecting our community," Lockwood said. "While some officers have chosen to remove themselves from a voluntary assignment with the ERT, it is important to note that no officers have actually resigned from the police force." 

"I want to reassure our citizens that they will be protected in any peaceful gatherings that ensue and that our department remains focused on the security of our community," he added.  

Video captured by an NPR member station shows the officers push a man, later identified as Martin Gugino, during a protest in Buffalo's Niagara Square on Thursday night. The man stumbled back, before falling and hitting his head on the ground. Blood is seen dripping from his head onto the pavement. 

Warning: The video in the below tweet contains graphic language and content. 

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown tweeted Thursday night that Gugino was in "stable but serious condition" at the Erie County Medical Center Hospital.

At a press conference Friday, Brown said the city has contingency plans to fill the vacancies, and that the investigation is proceeding. Brown said that he is not currently calling for the two officers to be fired, and that he wants to see the results of the investigation before making a decision. 

"It is very important that the officers know they are getting due process," he said. 

New York State police told the outlet that they are aware of the resignations and will be sending additional troopers to the region. 

Soon after the video surfaced on Thursday, Buffalo Police Department Captain Jeff Rinaldo told CBS News that "the Police Commissioner has immediately suspended two officers without pay in connection with the incident observed in the video." Rinaldo added that the department launched an internal affairs investigation. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo condemned the incident in a tweet on Thursday night, and again during a press conference Friday morning. 

"It's just fundamentally offensive and frightening… Who are we? How did we get to this place?" Cuomo said Friday. He added that he spoke to the man on the phone Friday, who he said was "thankfully" alive. 

Cuomo added that he would support firing the officers, though he noted that it was dependent on union rules. He also said that the district attorney is investigating potential criminal liability for the incident. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James also released a statement Friday saying "the video captured on June 4th shows what appears to be a horrific display of abuse and lack of concern for New Yorkers by the Buffalo Police Department. My office supports the investigation by the Erie County District Attorney's Office, and we stand by ready to assist should they need it."

Audrey McNamara contributed reporting. 

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