A successful Pride Fest celebration in the city of Pittsburgh has been dimmed by a disturbing video that has surfaced. According to a report by local CBS affiliate KDKA Monday, police are investigating an incident caught on camera that shows a police officer allegedly assaulting a teenage girl who attended the event.
It is unclear as to what led to the incident, but the captured footage shows an officer who appears to be grabbing the teen, identified as Ariel Lawther, by the neck and hair. Shouts of “what are you doing?” are heard as witnesses observe the confrontation. According to Gay Star News, Autumn Huntera, who claims the confrontation occurred after the teen got into a heated debate with homophobic protestors, posted the video on Facebook late Sunday afternoon.
She recounted that Lawther stood up for herself by stating she was a “lesbian and proud of it.” Lawther was then alledgedly grabbed by the back of her neck by the officer. He eventually proceeded to hit her in the stomach after she didn’t respond to him. The video does not show what led up to the incident, but Huntera claims the protestor was just a foot away from the teen when the cop grabbed her without warning.
The officer in the video claims he was punched several times by Lawther while he was trying to break up a fight between her and the protester. He grabbed her after she took a “combative stance” and then apologized for hitting the cop after she realized he was a police officer. The cop also claims he warned Lawther to calm it down and “not to be so physically offensive toward the demonstrators.”
Between Huntera’s statement and the police officer’s side of the story, what actually occurred is what police are now trying to find answers for. Lawther is currently being held in the Allegheny County Jail and is facing a list of charges. The video shows the end result of something that appears to have escalated beyond the14 seconds of what was shown. Ironically the theme of this year’s Pittsburgh Pride Fest is “Be Brave.” Lawther was apparently being brave, but did she take that bravery too far? The video can be seen here.