PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A young woman who was arrested during Pride Fest Downtown in June appeared in court Wednesday morning.
The incident happened along the parade route near the intersection of Sixth Street and Liberty Avenue back on June 15.
According to police, 19-year-old Ariel Lawther got into a fight with somebody protesting the parade. Several people then began gathering around the area.
KDKA’s Heather Abraham Reports:
Officer Souroth Chatterji said he stepped in to stop the fight and Lawther began to punch him.
As a result, Lawther was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Today, a judge reduced the charges to two summary counts of harassment. She was sentenced to time served, which was 16 hours in jail and paid a fine.
Cell phone video shows the officer grabbing Lawther by the hair and punching her at least two times.
However, this matter is far from concluded. The Office of Municipal Investigations looked into the events and found that Officer Chatterji did not use excessive force.
But, Lawther’s attorney says there is other video out there and he wants to see it.
“PNC video that I’ve asked for repeatedly that I’ve asked for that no one’s given to me. That no one will release. There’s supposedly eight hours of it. Supposedly it’s the do all, end all evidence wise and no one’s letting me see it,” Steven Barth said.
Barth said he’s written to the city and has gotten no response. He plans to file a petition for the video as well as video from a hotel downtown.
“I’ve handled these cases in the past and there’s something there to investigate. I’ve never experienced this kind of radio silence or stonewalling to give me a video. If the video shows something, show me,” Barth said.
KDKA’s Kimberly Gill Reports:
Previously, the Fraternal Order of Police released a photo they say was taken before the video begins.
The FOP says it shows Lawther was the aggressor and needed to be controlled.
“She clearly knows that he is a police officer,” said Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Jim Glick. “Second, she’s grabbing his left hand, and as you can see, her right hand is on his other hand. This is a confrontation that has to be controlled, immediately.”
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala released this statement on the case:
“Earlier today, as part of a negotiated plea agreement, my office agreed to reduce the charges against Ariel Lawther to two counts of summary harassment. This was an appropriate resolution in light of the evidence and all parties involved were in agreement.
“Additionally, the review of the evidence by my office indicated that Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Officer Souroth Chatterji acted reasonably and within his duties as a police officer in taking action to diffuse a confrontation, especially given the inadequate number of police officers assigned to the event and the apparent failure to plan for the physical separation of the festival attendees from the protesters.”
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