PITTSBURGH - The Fraternal Order of Police has released a photo they said was taken moments before an alleged police brutality incident during Pittsburgh’s PrideFest in June.
The picture allegedly shows 19-year-old Ariel Lawther grabbing the arm of a Pittsburgh police officer before she was arrested.
A video of Lawther’s arrest sparked outrage. The video allegedly shows the officer punching Lawther while he tried to arrest her.
According to District Attorney Stephen Zappala, the officer said he was attempting to break up a fight when Lawther attacked him and started hitting and kicking him.
The officer said he pulled her away from the crowd, punched her in the stomach and took her to the ground to handcuff her.
“I believe the photo proves (Ariel) was wrong. (The officer) was defending himself and she kept fighting,” Fraternal Order of Police President Jim Glick told Channel 11’s Alan Jennings on Monday.
Lawther was charged with assault and resisting arrest. She said she didn’t realize at the time of the incident that the man was an officer. Both the photo and video show the officer in full uniform.
“It doesn’t tell us anything,” said Beth Pittinger, the head of the Pittsburgh Citizen’s Police Review Board. “It’s just a moment in time. It just tells us there was contact. It doesn’t tell us the circumstances. There’s no context to this.”
An investigation into the officer, who has been put on desk duty, is ongoing.
“I think we have to take this as part of the entire story to be told,” Pittinger said.
Pittsburgh police have not commented on the incident because it remains under review by the Internal Affairs department.
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