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Trump Suggests Buffalo Protester's Fall May Have Been 'A Set Up,' Cuomo Calls Comments 'Reckless'

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke out against President Donald Trump during his daily briefing Tuesday, after the president tweeted about the Buffalo police officers charged with pushing a 75-year-old protester.

Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were seen on video shoving the man, who falls and hits his head on the pavement.

The victim, identified as Martin Gugino, remains hospitalized but is no longer in the intensive care unit, the governor said.

Both McCabe and Torgalski were released without bail after pleading not guilty to felony second-degree assault charges.

On Tuesday morning, the president tweeted, "Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?"

Cuomo disputed Trump's claim, saying "it's all made up, it's all fabricated, there's no fact to any of it."

"What do you think it was staged? Do you think the blood coming out of his head was staged? Is that what you're saying? You saw his head hit the pavement, you see blood on the pavement!" the governor shouted. "How reckless, how irresponsible, how mean, how crude."

The governor said the president should apologize, calling his comments "wholly unacceptable."

Gugino's lawyer told CBS2 the 75-year-old "has always been a peaceful protester because he cares about today's society."

"He is also a typical Western New Yorker who loves his family. No one from law enforcement has even suggested anything otherwise so we are at a loss to understand why the President of the United States would make such dark, dangerous, and untrue accusations against him," attorney Kelly Zarcone's statement continued.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also responded to Trump's tweet, saying, "Mr. President @realDonaldTrump, the City of Buffalo is laser focused on healing, taking action against racial injustice and building a good future for our residents. We pray for a full recovery for Mr. Gugino and as I have repeatedly said, the two officers deserve due process."

Tensions have been high in the city – dozens of officers resigned from the crowd control unit over McCabe and Torgalski's initial suspensions.

The department also suspended a civilian employee for a profanity-laced post on his personal Facebook page which seemed to refer to protesters as "wild animals" and said the mayor should allow officers to "shoot to kill."

Days before Gugino was shoved, police said a 30-year-old woman drove an SUV into a line of law enforcement, injuring three officers. A state trooper was dragged under the vehicle, shattering his pelvis and breaking a femur, according to Assistant District Attorney Ryan Haggerty.

Deyanna Davis was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, assault, possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a weapon.

Authorities said Davis had not been among the crowd of protesters that night.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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