Thursday, August 2, 2012

Miles civil case headed to jury - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Jordan Miles (right) enters the Federal Courthouse Thursday August 2, 2012 Downtown ahead of the start of jury deliberations in his civil lawsuit. James Knox | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


By Brian Bowling

Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 11:26 a.m.
Updated 8 minutes ago

Eight jurors on Thursday will begin deciding which version of a Homewood man’s 2010 arrest is more credible: His or the one described by the three Pittsburgh police officers who took him into custody.

Testimony ended Wednesday in the racially charged civil rights trial, and lawyers for both sides will make their closing arguments before U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster sends the case to the jury.

Jordan Miles, 20, who is black, says he was walking along Tioga Street on Jan. 12, 2010, talking on a cell phone when the three white officers approached. Fearing he would be robbed or assaulted, he ran but slipped or fell and was beaten so severely he has permanent brain damage, he says.

The officers said Miles was lurking suspiciously between houses, appeared to have a gun and ran when they questioned him, eventually struggling and resisting arrest.

Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak deny violating his civil rights or that Miles suffered any permanent injury during the arrest. They admit to punching and kneeing Miles during the struggle to handcuff him but deny striking him afterward.

â€Å"Nobody ever choked him,” Ewing testified on Tuesday. â€Å"Nobody ever touched him after the handcuffs were on.”

An emergency room doctor who treated Miles the night he was arrested said the bump on his head and an adjacent cut could have been caused by the serrated edge of a police officer’s flashlight.

The officers called Dr. Thomas Martin, who worked for West Penn Hospital in 2010, to testify that some of the swelling of Miles’ face was attributable to a piece of wood that was driven into his gums during the arrest.

Miles contends the wood was on the ground and became lodged in his gums when the officers repeatedly pushed his face into the snow. The officers said the wood was part of a hedge and impaled Miles’ gums when Sisak tackled a fleeing Miles and they both went through the hedge.

Martin said Miles didn’t exhibit any signs of neurologic dysfunction during the hour and 20 minutes he was in the emergency room.

â€Å"Mr. Miles wouldn’t have fit the definition of concussion,” he said. Martin now works at UPMC Presbyterian.

Another emergency room doctor and a psychiatrist who treated Miles testified earlier in the trial that symptoms of brain injury don’t always show up immediately after the trauma. Martin agreed. He declined to comment after leaving the witness stand.

Other testimony on Wednesday was given by Miles’ manager at a CVS Pharmacy, who said that he is a good employee who has no difficulty at work. The three officers called the manager to show that Miles has not suffered any brain injury.

The officers also called Officer Lisa McCoy, part of the police department’s mobile crime unit, who testified about photographing the scene where the arrest occurred. And they called a police training expert who said that if the officers’ version of events is accurate, they followed proper police procedure, but if Miles’ version is accurate, they violated his rights.

The city settled Miles’ claim against it for $75,000, but as part of the agreement would pay any damages assessed against the officers if the jury finds for Miles.

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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