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Pittsburgh police officer investigated for forceful gay pride arrest (with viral video)


PITTSBURGH -- A police officer was put on desk duty after video surfaced showing him punching a woman at the city's gay pride parade and festival.

The officer, Souroth Chatterji, will remain on restricted duty for a month during an internal investigation, Mayor Bill Peduto said Monday.

Chatterji said in a criminal complaint that he was trying to break up a fight when he grabbed the woman by the head and punched her in the side so he could handcuff her. The officer said the woman, Ariel Lawther, 22, of Harmony, fought with him and kicked him in the groin, resulting in charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

She also was charged with simple assault for allegedly attacking a man the mayor said was with a group of people opposing the parade. Peduto said the episode began with "comments from some of the folks who had gathered to oppose the parade."

Online court records don't list an attorney for Lawther. She doesn't have a listed telephone number and didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on her Facebook page, where a friend posted the brief video.

The Delta Foundation, a local group that advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, asked police to investigate the officer's actions.

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