Monday, July 30, 2012

Pittsburgh police officers glad for chance to talk in Miles' case - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jordan Miles stands with his mother, Terez, in Homewood on Wednesday afternon, May 4, 2011. Federal officials decided Wednesday that they would not charge three Pittsburgh police officers accused of beating of Miles during an arrest near his home. Miles, 19, a former honors student at the Creative and Performing Arts high school, accused officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak of beating him the night of Jan. 12, 2010. The officers have been on paid leave since an investigation began weeks later. (Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review)


By Brian Bowling

Published: Monday, July 30, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Updated 2 hours ago

One of three Pittsburgh police officers being sued on allegations of violating the civil rights of a Homewood man found some relief in finally being able to tell his side of the story, a defense lawyer said.

Bryan Campbell, who represents Officer Michael Saldutte, said the legal process that kept the officers mostly silent since they arrested Jordan Miles on Jan. 12, 2010, frustrated them.

â€Å"I think from the very beginning that the officers felt that their version never got out,” he said.

Tim O’Brien, one of Miles’ attorneys, said at its heart the case is that Miles was a good student with no disciplinary history at school, much less a criminal history. He was taking a short walk when three police officers assaulted and permanently injured him, according to the civil lawsuit.

â€Å"Nothing Saldutte can say, or what the other officers can say, can change that fact,” he said.

Saldutte testified Thursday. Six jurors and two alternate jurors will resume hearing testimony Monday in what could be the trial’s final week before jurors start deliberations.

Miles, 20, says Saldutte and officers David Sisak and Richard Ewing caused him permanent brain damage during the arrest. The officers were patrolling the neighborhood in plain clothes and an unmarked car.

Miles says the officers had no reason to stop him on Tioga Street while he walked the short distance between his mother’s and grandmother’s houses.

He claims they didn’t identify themselves as police and filed false charges against him in order to cover up the beating they gave him before and after handcuffing him.

The officers claim Miles behaved suspiciously in a high-crime area, ran when they asked him to explain his actions, and then assaulted Saldutte and Sisak as they sought to detain him.

They acknowledge that they punched and kneed Miles to get him into handcuffs but deny striking him afterward. They contend he suffered no permanent injuries during the arrest.

A district judge dismissed criminal charges the officers filed against Miles. The Allegheny County district attorney and the U.S. attorney declined to charge the officers after investigating.

Campbell said physical evidence supports the officers’ version of events.

Saldutte testified Thursday that Miles ran up a sidewalk in the 7900 block of Tioga Street when Sisak tackled him from behind and sent them both crashing through hedges to their right.

Miles denies going through the hedges. Yet, pictures of Miles taken shortly after the arrest show that most of the swelling was on the right side of his face, and medical evidence shows at least two pieces of wood ended up in the right side of his mouth, Campbell said.

â€Å"That’s all consistent with him going through the hedges,” he said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com

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