Monday, July 30, 2012

Jordan Miles trial witnesses say they found braids near bushes - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette

The third week of the Jordan Miles civil trial began this morning with testimony from two neighbors who said they found what were apparently braids of the young man's hair in a hedgerow the morning after his encounter with police.

The testimony bolstered the contentions of Pittsburgh police officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak that Mr. Miles' injuries occurred when he was tackled through the bushes, and not by the beating that the plaintiff has alleged.

Patricia Coleman, a hospital secretary, said she lives at 7938 Tioga St., the house next door to the scene of the encounter. She said on the night of Jan. 12, 2010, she heard someone calling out for help from the street as she lay in bed, but did not investigate.

The next morning, as she went to work, she saw blood by the bushes along her front walk and braids of hair in the damaged shrubs.

Her son, A-Ron Roberts, later testified to the same observations, and both agreed that their cable wire was hanging much lower that morning than usual because the bracket that held it to their house was broken.

The hair in the hedges is a particularly important point for the officers, who contend that most of the damage to Mr. Miles was caused when Officer Sisak took him through the bushes into jagged ground beyond. Mr. Miles has said he doesn't recall going through the bushes.

Parts of the testimony of Ms. Coleman and Mr. Roberts favored Mr. Miles. They confirmed that he was not a troublemaker and wasn't known to confront authority.

Mr. Roberts, 18, said he had never seen Mr. Miles cut through yards, undercutting the officers' theory that he may have been trying to use a shortcut from his mother's to his grandmother's house when they saw him that night.

In the trial's first week Mr. Miles, 20, of Homewood, testified that three men jumped out of an unmarked car on Homewood's Tioga Street on the snowy night in 2010, chased and beat him both before and after he was handcuffed.

Only when he was placed in a police wagon, he said, did he realize they were officers.

In week two, police Chief Nate Harper said that the city's investigation found no wrongdoing by the officers.

That week's testimony closed with Officer Saldutte telling the jury that Mr. Miles ignored officers' orders to stop, carried a heavy object which appeared to be a gun, struck officers and resisted arrest.

Officers Ewing and Sisak have not yet testified.

The officers were never charged with any crime. Charges against Mr. Miles of aggravated assault, loitering, resisting arrest and escape were dismissed at a preliminary hearing.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.

First published on July 30, 2012 at 11:23 am

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