The 75-year-old Catholic peace activist hospitalized after he was shoved by a police officer during a peaceful protest last week in Buffalo, New York, suffered a brain injury as a result of the incident, his lawyer revealed Thursday.
Kelly Zarcone said her client, Martin Gugino, “is starting physical therapy,” which Zarcone called “a step in the right direction,” reports NBC New York.
“As heartbreaking as it is, his brain is injured and he is well aware of that now,” Zarcone said in a statement. “He feels encouraged and uplifted by the outpouring of support which he has received from so many people all over the globe. It helps. He is looking forward to healing and determining what his “new normal” might look like.”
The news of Gugino’s injury comes days after President Donald Trump spread an unfounded conspiracy theory Tuesday about Gugino.
“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” Trump wrote. “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?”
Viral video showed Gugino approach officers before stumbling and falling after he was pushed back during a protest for racial justice Thursday at Buffalo City Hall soon after the city’s 8 p.m. curfew.
Witnesses described the protest as peaceful and an attorney statement said Gugino is “a longtime peaceful protester, human rights advocate, and overall fan of the US Constitution for many years,” NBC affiliate WGRZ reported.
He is involved with the Western New York Peace Center and Latin American Solidarity Committee, whose executive director Vicki Ross, told The AP Tuesday that Gugino is still hospitalized but out of intensive care. He has also been undergoing treatment for cancer, she said.
Two Buffalo officers, Robert McCabe, 32, and Aaron Torgalski, 39, were suspended without pay then charged with second-degree assault. They have pleaded not guilty and 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response team quit the task force in solidarity with their colleagues.