WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump put forth an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory Tuesday about the 75-year-old protester in Buffalo who suffered head injuries after pushed to the ground by police and hit his head on the sidewalk.
"75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment," Trump said in a morning tweet that provided little clarification.
Citing a report on conservative news network OANN, Trump said: "I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?" He also said Gugino "could be" an anarchist "provocateur," but provided no evidence for that assertion.
Two suspended Buffalo police officers have been charged with assault and accused of intentionally pushing Gugino, who was seen bleeding from the back of the head after he hit the sidewalk.
Gugino, described by a friends as a man of peace seeking justice, was in serious but stable condition following the incident on Thursday.
His attorney, Kelly Zarcone, said last week her client has been a longtime peaceful protester, a human rights advocate and an “overall fan of the U.S. Constitution for many years.”
Critics expressed outrage over Trump's tweet, calling it unbecoming for a president.
"Trump 2020: That old man had it coming," tweeted Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman for President Barack Obama. "(Good luck with this, GOP.)"
Trump sent the tweet just hours before the funeral of George Floyd, the man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police triggered protests nationwide, including massive demonstrations in cities like Washington, D.C., and Buffalo.
All 57 members of the Buffalo Police Department's Emergency Response Team resigned from the unit Friday after the two officers were suspended. The unit members have not quit the police department but have stepped down from the tactical unit.
Trump, who has frequently appealed to police officers to be part of his political coalition, also said Gugino could be part of anarchist group Antifa, again without evidence.
Lanny Davis, an attorney who worked for the White House during the Bill Clinton administration, questioned the support for Trump's tweet.
"Could one person who hit 'like' - just one - explain how you could 'like' this literally insane post by @realDonaldTrump #POTUS," he tweeted. "Just one?"
This story is developing and will be updated.