A video showing a Pittsburgh Police officer using what appears to be excessive force on a 19-year-old Pittsburgh PrideFest attendee, has sparked outrage online after it was shared on Facebook late Sunday afternoon.
According to eyewitness Autumn Huntera, the incident occurred around 5 o’clock Sunday afternoon. Huntera explains that the teen engaged in a heated debate with a group of anti-gay protesters attending the Pride festival: “She was saying that being gay is not a sin and that she was a lesbian and proud of it, and that she wasn’t going to hell for it.”
Huntera detailed her account of the incident for us:
Huntera adds that the protester and teen were about a foot apart when the officer grabbed her without prior warning.
Watch a video of the incident below:
WPXI has also shared a full-length version of the video:
UPDATE Via WPXI:
According to the criminal complaint, Ariel Lawther was fighting with a man named Eric Moore. The officer involved said when he went to break the fight up, he got pushed and kicked. The complaint stated that the officer, “pulled the woman out and grabbed her hair and punched her in the stomach a few times.”
Lawther posted $5,000 bail and has since been released from the Allegheny County Jail.
At a news conference late Monday morning, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he wants “fairness” and is launching an investigation into the video to determine if excessive force was used.
The Delta Foundation issued a statement saying:
Multiple eyewitnesses dispute the officers claims that Lawther physically assaulted him and that he is lying. “No, she never laid her hands on anybody,” Huntera tells us.
A second eyewitness who was attending the pride event with her young son, also denies the officers accusations. “The officer was not kicked and punched,” Lawanda Pearson recounts. “The girl just stood her ground as the officer got in her face, and then he grabbed her and threw her on the ground. When she did not get back up, the cop grabbed her by her hair and pulled her up saying, ‘Do you want me to hit you then he just repeatedly punch her on her side.’”
Do you think the officer used excessive force on the teenage girl? Leave your opinions in the comment section below.