Video Shows Pittsburgh Cop Punching Teen At Gay Pride In An Apparent Use Of Excessive Force

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:

The girl was debating with one of the protesters, and she stepped closer without even realizing it and the officer ran over to her. He grabbed her by the back of her neck, pulled her over, dropped her on the ground, pulled her up by her hair, and said “Do you want me to hit you.” When she didn’t respond, he hit her in stomach area about 4 or 5 times repeatedly. After everyone yelled at him, he hand cuffed her, put her against a wall. She was crying against a wall next to her ‘attacker’ while her fiancee was panicking trying to find someone who recorded it.

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:


Channel 11’s Rick Earle reported that sources say the woman involved was arrested and is facing several charges, including resisting arrest.

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:

Following an extremely successful Pittsburgh Pride 2014 which included record crowds all weekend, the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh was concerned to learn about a video of an incident between a city of Pittsburgh police officer and an attendee. We are working closely with Mayor Bill Peduto’s office, public safety director Stephen Bucar, acting chief Regina McDonald, the office of municipal investigations, and the Citizens Police Review Board to review the incident and take appropriate action.”

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.