Three police officers in Pittsburgh, Penn. were cleared Wednesday (Aug. 8), in the vicious beating of a Black man whom they suspected of wrongdoing. A federal court ruled that the three White officers did not maliciously seek out victim, Jordan Miles, who claims to have been stopped by cops for no particular reason. However, eight jurors—most of which were White with the exception of a Black foreman— were not able to reach a decision on whether or not the officers were guilty of false arrest, or using excessive force.
“It’s a good win for us,” said attorney James Wymard, who represents accused Officer David Sisak.
At the time of the altercation, Miles was an 18-year-old senior at Pittsburgh’s performing arts high school and had no criminal record. He was approached by police at around 11 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010. Police allege that he appeared to be creeping near a neighborhood home, and had in his pocket what they thought was a gun, but turned out to be a soda bottle.
Miles tells a very different story, stating that he was visiting his grandmother’s house on the night in question, when the officers rolled up on him and peppered him with questions, including whether or not he had drugs or money. Miles denies having anything in his pockets, while police refute his account of what happened that night.
Although an apparent struggle ensued, Mile maintains that he attempted to get away for fear of getting robbed because the officers never announced that they were police. According to their testimony officers said that Miles elbowed and kicked them, and continued to get away until he was tasered. He was charged with assaulting police, loitering, resisting arrest, and prowling at night.
While the officers were cleared of being malicious, a judge ordered a mistrial on the remaining two counts. “They want to be vindicated on the other two counts,” noted Robert Leight, attorney to Officer Richard Ewing who used the stun gun on Miles.
Of course this isn’t the first time that police have been let off the hook after attacking, or even killing a civilian. The cops in the case of Oscar Grant—the Bay Area man who was shot and killed at a local BART in 2009, got off with time served, spending less than two years behind bars. Meanwhile, in Houston, a former officer was found not guilty for attacking a 15-year-old suspected of committing a burglary.
In Miles’ cases, the claim of wrongful arrest must be retried, but the young man’s attorney, Timothy O’Brien, has vowed to appeal the original ruling, and may seek civil damages.
Click below to see photos of Miles before, and after the altercation with police.
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Photo: Pittsburgh Report