Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jordan Miles case jury to try again to reach verdict - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

A jury will try again today to reach agreement on whether three City of Pittsburgh police officers falsely arrested, unnecessarily hurt and maliciously charged Jordan Miles.

On Tuesday U.S. District Chief Judge Gary Lancaster called a dispirited-looking jury into his courtroom to urge members to keep trying.

"Remember, you are not partisans," he told them. "You are judges -- judges of the facts."

Attorneys for both sides said the jury had reached agreement on one count, but not the other two. They would not say which count, nor whether that agreement was in favor of the plaintiff or defense.

News that the jury was approaching deadlock sent attorneys for Mr. Miles, the three officers and the city into a flurry of hushed conversations, but no resolution emerged.

If the jury is able to reach unanimous agreement on one count, but not the other two, then the judge has two options. He could declare an overall mistrial, likely leading to a retrial. Or he could accept the verdict on the one count, leaving it up to the plaintiff to decide whether to push for a retrial on the other two.

"Each of you must decide the case for yourself," Judge Lancaster told the five men and three women of the jury. They should try to reach unanimity, he said. "You should not be influenced to vote in a certain way, however, by the single fact that most of you want to vote a single way."

He told the jurors not to assume a future jury, at a future trial, could do a better job.

He urged them to "recognize that you are not infallible" and to "take the time you need."

A verdict would end a three-week trial in which Mr. Miles, 20, accused Pittsburgh police Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak of beating, falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting him.

If the jury finds unanimously for Mr. Miles, the city would pay the verdict, and potentially the plaintiff's attorneys' fees. A unanimous defense verdict would end the matter and vindicate the officers.

Mr. Miles testified that he was walking down Homewood's Tioga Street from his mother's house to his grandmother's house on Jan. 12, 2010, when an unmarked car with three plainclothes officers pulled up, and the men chased him down and beat him before and after he was handcuffed.

They charged him with aggravated assault, loitering, escape and resisting arrest, but the charges were dismissed by a district judge.

The officers testified they saw Mr. Miles hiding beside a house, identified themselves as police and became suspicious when he said it was not his home. They said they thought he had a gun, he fought them and they used force only until he was handcuffed.

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