PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Police are investigating an incident caught on camera that shows what a police officer allegedly assaulting a Pride Fest attendee.
Over the weekend, thousands of people packed Downtown Pittsburgh for the annual Pride Fest celebration.
According to police, the incident happened along the parade route near the intersection of Sixth Street and Liberty Avenue.
The officer’s account of the situation states a fight started between Ariel Lawther and man, where about 50 people had gathered.
The officer worked his way through the crowd in an attempt to break up the fight. At that time, the officer claims, Lawther punched him several times and took a “combative stance.”
At that point, the video shows the officer grabbing her by the hair and punching her at least two times in the chest.
After being placed in handcuffs, the officer claims Lawther said, “I’m sorry. I did not see you were a cop. I am sorry I hit you.”
The officer also stated he spoke with Lawther earlier in the afternoon and asked her, “not to be so physically offensive toward the demonstrators.”
The officer involved has been suspended while the investigation is conducted.
“All of these types of incidents will be reviewed and investigated very thoroughly and objectively without any predisposition on either side. This incident has been referred to Office of Municipal Investigation for review. There’s a process in place that triggers that in these types of incidents,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar said.
“The officer has been taken off the street and will remain off the street for 30 days. He has been suspended for many other outside duties while the investigation continues,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.
The incident caught the attention of the Delta Foundation, which helped to organize this year’s Pride event. They issued a statement regarding the incident, which said:
“We are pleased that Mayor Bill Peduto has issued a full investigation into the matter that occurred between the City of Pittsburgh Police officer and Ariel Lawther. It is our understanding that Ms. Lawther has been released from jail and we are currently in the process of reaching out to her to see if there’s anything the Delta Foundation can do for her.
In the meantime, we have contacted U.S. Attorney General David Hickton’s office to also inform them of the incident and launch a potential hate crime investigation.”
Lawther is now being held in the Allegheny County Jail and is facing a list of charges including, aggravated assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
No other details have been released at this time.
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