Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mayor Promises Pridefest Arrest Review

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mayor Promises Pridefest Arrest Review

Article excerpt

A Pittsburgh police officer has been taken off the street while city officials review an incident in which he was captured on video punching a woman at PrideFest over the weekend.

Mayor Bill Peduto did not refer to the officer by name, but court records indicate he is Souroth Chatterji, 29, who joined the force in August 2012. Officer Chatterji has been transferred to the warrant office while the city's Office of Municipal Investigations reviews the incident over the next 30 days, officials said.

"I just want to reassure the people that this is a new day," Mr. Peduto said.

"We won't look the other way when incidents like this happen."

The video - which shows a portion but not all of the arrest - quickly circulated on the Internet, prompting local LGBT advocacy group the Delta Foundation to call for an investigation.

Officer Chatterji arrested a Harmony woman, 19-year-old Ariel Lawther, after the incident. Ms. Lawther could not immediately be reached for comment.

Officer Chatterji wrote in a criminal complaint that he was standing inside the PNC building near the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Sixth Street, Downtown, when he saw Ms. Lawther hit a man. He wrote that he pushed through a crowd of about 50 people and attempted 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 Lawther by her shoulders."

He wrote that the crowd pushed him and he pushed Ms. Lawther in her upper chest and neck.

"In a rapidly evolving and tenuous situation I grabbed Lawther by the head and swung her out of the crowd. As I was doing this I was struck and grabbed numerous times by Lawther and others," Officer Chatterji wrote.

He wrote that others were grabbing Lawther and she "grabbed at my vest, chest and belt area in an attempt to injure me."

Officer Chatterji wrote that at one point he was struck in the head from behind and became dazed. …

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