A Pittsburgh cop claimed he broke through a crowd of 50 people to apprehend a woman who was attacking a man during a gay pride parade this weekend, only for her to start punching and kicking him in the groin and chest as the surrounding crowd joined in and started pushing him.
Officer Souroth Chatterji said he had no choice but to grab Ariel Lawther by the hair and punch her repeatedly in the stomach.
But a video shows that if anybody escalated the situation, it was him.
However, Chatterji justified the assault with the magic words that have justified hundreds of police beatings and shooting in the past; that he was in fear for his safety.
As a result, 19-year-old Lawther was charged with aggravated and simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
According to WTAE:
“As I came outside, a large crowd of approximately 50 people were gathered around Lawther and Moure. I pushed through the crowd and stepped in between Lawther and Moure in an attempt to break up the conflict. As I did so, Lawther began to push and strike me in the chest with her hands and groin area with her legs,” the officer wrote. “Due to the proximity of Lawther to myself and the crowd, I tried to push her into an open area where she could be handcuffed. I had the crowd pushing against me so I could not push Lawther by her shoulders. I had to push Lawther at a high angle thus pushing her by the upper chest and neck area.”
It was at that point, according to the complaint, that the officer was struck in the groin and shin with “significant force” and feared for his safety in the crowd — describing it as a “rapidly evolving and tenuous situation” — so he grabbed Lawther by the head and swung her out of the crowd.
While the officer was doing that, he was struck “numerous times” by Lawther and others, the complaint said. Lawther was also being pulled to the side by people in the crowd, and she grabbed at “my vest, chest and belt area in an attempt to injure me,” the officer wrote.
“I turned to look who had been grabbing and hitting me from the back when I was struck in the head from the behind with force causing me to become dazed. I turned and saw Lawther who still had her hands up in a combative stance and her head lowered, thus I grabbed her hand. Again Lawther violently pulled her away in an attempt to fight me again,” the complaint says. “Thus to diffuse the situation quickly before I was attacked by the crowd once more, I punched Lawther in the left abdomen several times to distract her enough so I could handcuff her. I quickly moved Lawther and I away from the crowd for her and my safety.”
A 16-second video was posted on Facebook last night and quickly went viral, prompting a press conference by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto where he ensured a full investigation will be conducted. Chatterji was also removed from street duty for 30 days.
The full video is posted above. The incident begins at 3:03.
It started when Lawther and her lesbian friends were arguing with a group of street preachers over which group commits the most sins. First Amendment expression at its stupidest.
The argument got heated and Lawther either shoved the street preacher, punched the preacher or accidentally stepped into the preacher’s personal space, depending on whom you ask.
That part wasn’t caught on camera, but the part that was caught on camera indicates that Chatterji has quite the flair for fiction.