The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

June 16, 2014

State briefs 6/17/2014

Gay pride arrest under investigation

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.

Balloon pilot dies during landing mishap

KIMBERTON – The pilot of a hot air balloon fell from the basket while trying to land in a field near Philadelphia and could not be revived after becoming trapped under it, authorities said Monday.

Jeff Hooten, 47, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died Sunday after the accident in East Pikeland Township, Chester County, police said.

None of the 10 passengers was injured.

Hooten was reaching to grab a rope to deflate the balloon when he fell, police Chief James Franciscus said. The pilot was dragged after becoming stuck between the basket and the ground, Franciscus said.

House OKs lower fees for disabled vets

HARRISBURG – Many disabled veterans in Pennsylvania could qualify for low-cost fishing and hunting licenses under a pair of bills approved by the House.

Lawmakers voted 196-0 on Monday to give final House approval to the bills.

Senate approval is required before the bills could be sent to the governor.

The legislation would allow any military veteran who is between 60 percent and 99 percent disabled to receive a resident fishing or hunting license for $2.70, including processing fees.

Regular fees for adult resident licenses are $22.70 for fishing and $20.70 for hunting.

Disabled veterans who have lost a limb or the use of a limb or who are totally physically disabled will continue to qualify for free hunting and fishing licenses under current law.

Youth suicide, genocide may become classroom topics

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania schools could soon be encouraged to teach about youth suicide prevention and the history of genocide, under two separate measures headed to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk.

Both bills passed the state House of Representatives on Monday.

Under one bill, each school will be required to develop a youth suicide awareness and prevention policy. Teachers will receive instruction on it and schools can choose to work it into the curriculum for students in grades six through 12.

The other bill would require the state Education Department to distribute curriculum materials on the Holocaust, gen­ocide and human rights violations to each school and offer teachers training on the subject.

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