Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jordan Miles trial judge to jury: Keep trying - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

Jordan Miles and Terez Miles enter the Federal Courthouse today.

U.S. District Chief Judge Gary Lancaster called the jury in the Jordan Miles civil trial back into the courtroom today to urge them to keep trying to reach a unanimous verdict.

"I understand that you are having some difficulties reaching unanimous agreement," Judge Lancaster told the five men and three women, who have been deliberating since 3 p.m. on Thursday. "I'm going to ask you to return to the jury room and deliberate further. Each of you must decide the case for yourself.

They should try to reach agreement, the judge said, but not at the cost of their own consciences.

"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 said.

He urged them to "recognize that you are not infallible."

He said the jurors should "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.

The jury can find unanimously for Mr. Miles, in which case the city would pay the verdict and possibly the plaintiff's attorneys' fees; find unanimously for the defense in which case no damages would be awarded; or close the trial with a hung jury, meaning a second trial would be scheduled.

Mr. Miles, 20, 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.

He said they did not identify themselves as police and jumped out of the car demanding to know where he had drugs, guns and money.

He said they chased him down and beat him, before and after handcuffing him, then charged him with aggravated assault, loitering, escape and resisting arrest.

The officers have countered that they saw Mr. Miles hiding beside a neighbor's house, identified themselves as police and became suspicious when he said it was not his home.

They said they mistook a bulge in his coat caused by a Mountain Dew bottle -- which the plaintiff said he did not have -- for a gun, and when he ran, they gave chase. He elbowed Officer Saldutte in the head and kicked Officer Sisak, they testified, and resisted arrest until Officer Ewing stunned him with a knee strike to the head.

They vehemently denied using force after he was handcuffed.

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

First published on August 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm

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