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'We're Hiring,' Florida Police Union Head Tells Buffalo Officers Accused Of Brutality Against Protestors
Bert Gamin, the president of the Brevard County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, initially defended the posts but has since apologized.
A police union chapter president in Florida seemingly invited police officers involved in the now-infamous alleged assault of an elderly man in upstate New York to apply for jobs in his county.
Fifty-seven Buffalo police officers recently resigned from their force's emergency response team in apparent support of the two officers from their team who were suspended after they allegedly knocked protester Martin Gugino, 75, to the ground during a George Floyd protest. While the 57 officers resigned from the volunteer assignment team, they are still with the department itself, WKBW in Buffalo reported.
Graphic video of the shove, taken by a bystander, shocked Americans nationwide. In the video, Gugino can be seen hurdling backward onto pavement, where a pool of blood quickly surrounds his head. None of the officers checked on him in the video; one tried, but was seemingly pushed to keep walking. President Donald Trump tweeted out a conspiracy theory about Gugino on Tuesday, claiming without providing evidence that his fall may have been a “set up."
Gugino is still recovering in a hospital from serious injuries. The officers responsible — Aaron Torgalski, 39, and Robert McCabe, 32 — have been charged with felony assault and have pleaded not guilty, according to the New York Times.
The 57 officers who resigned from the team following the violent incident were seemingly invited by the Brevard County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police to join the Florida county's forces in a now-deleted Saturday Facebook post, screen-capped by CNN.
The post apparently offered jobs to both the "Buffalo 57" as well as the "Atlanta 6" — referring to the six Atlanta officers charged with assault after allegedly using excessive force on college students Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, and Messiah Young, 22.
Shocking footage showed the Atlanta police officers aggressively breaking the window of Pilgrim and Young's vehicle, and using a stun gun on both of them.
“We’re hiring,” the post stated, adding "Lower taxes, no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences... Plus... we got your back!"
On Sunday, the Facebook page also expressed public support and apparent job offers for Minneapolis police as well. The police department in that city is facing calls to be defunded following Floyd’s death, and the Minneapolis City Council threatening to "dismantle" the department entirely.
Floyd died in late May after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck for nearly nine minutes, including after Floyd became unresponsive. Four officers are currently facing charges in connection with Floyd's death following public outcry and protests. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and has not entered a plea.
Bert Gamin, the president of the Brevard County chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, admitted to being the man behind the Facebook posts which have received widespread criticism, but initially stood by his statements.
He told Florida Today on Monday that "the police had the legal authority in both cases [in Atlanta and Buffalo]. [...] At the time the warnings were provided, the citizens were already breaking the law. Those citizens chose to disregard the warnings. It led directly to escalations and confrontations with the police.”
Just hours later though, Gamin changed his tune and apologized for the posts.
"This weekend, I made a posting on social media which was in poor taste and did not reflect the sentiment that I was trying to convey, nor that of the FOP," Gamin told Florida Today. "For that, I humbly apologize to all of you."
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey distanced his department from Gamin on Monday in a statement which condemned Gamin's posts.
"Earlier today it came to my attention that an organization identified as 'Brevard County F.O.P.' had posted a comment on Facebook that was extremely distasteful and insensitive to current important and critical issues that are occurring across our country," Ivey stated, adding that the posts had no official affiliation with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
He suspended Gamin with pay from his position with the Brevard Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, pending an internal affairs investigation, Florida Today reported.