A Pittsburgh police officer’s suspension was announced Monday after a video emerged allegedly showing him assaulting a Pride Fest female attendee over the weekend.
The unidentified officer was patrolling as thousands of individuals flocked to downtown Pittsburgh for the annual Pride Fest celebration when the incident occurred, KDKA-TV reported.
According to the officer’s account of events, a fight broke out between a man and woman identified as Ariel Lawther. When the officer attempted to break up the physical altercation, he claims Lawther punched him multiple times and took a “combative stance.”
Video then appears to show the officer grab the woman by the hair and strike her at least two times in the chest area.
“I’m sorry. I did not see you were a cop. I am sorry I hit you,” the woman later claimed, after being placed in handcuffs, KDKA reported.
The officer said that he had told her earlier not to be “so physically offensive toward the demonstrators.”
In a press briefing Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto announced the officer’s suspension.
“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,” he said.
“All of these types of incidents will be reviewed and investigated very thoroughly and objectively without any predisposition on either side,” Pittsburgh public safety director Stephen Bucar echoed. ”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.”
News of the suspension pleased the Delta Foundation, which helped to organize this year’s Pride Fest.
“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,” the group said in a statement. “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.”
Lawther faces multiple charges, including aggravated assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to KDKA.
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