President Trump pushes conspiracy theory about injured protester
NEW YORK - President Donald Trump made seemingly baseless accusations against an elderly New York man who remains hospitalized with head injuries after he was pushed to the ground by a police officer at a protest in Buffalo and was strongly rebuked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
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?"
Two Buffalo police officers are charged with assault in the incident that was captured by a TV news crew last Thursday.
The footage shows Gugino approaching a line of helmeted officers holding batons as they clear demonstrators from Niagara Square around the time of an 8 p.m. curfew.
Two officers pushed Gugino backward, and he hits his head on the pavement. Blood spills as officers walk past. One officer leans down to check on the injured man before another officer urges the colleague to keep walking.
Dozens of police officers stepped down from the department's crowd control unit last week in response to their fellow officers' suspensions.
Scanners are common equipment used by news organizations and others to monitor police audio communications. The equipment can only listen to the audio and can not interfere or block communications.
The tweet outraged Cuomo, who addressed it as his daily news conference.
"Do you think the blood coming out of his head was staged?" Cuomo said. "Is that what you are saying?"
The governor went on to say that the president should say he's sorry.
"How reckless. How irresponsible. How mean. How crude," Cuomo added. "If he ever feels a moment of decency, he should apologize for that tweet."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.