Attorneys for officers in Jordan Miles case argue to maintain jury verdict

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A federal jury's March verdict that three officers falsely arrested Homewood man Jordan Miles, but did not use excessive force while doing so, isn't inconsistent and shouldn't be overturned, attorneys for the police argued in motions filed Friday.

The legal brief took on a puzzling aspect of the jury's March 31 verdict, in which four men and four women found that police had no cause to arrest Mr. Miles, but weren't wrong to tackle and repeatedly strike him. The jury awarded $119,016, which the defense is trying to whittle down to $8,415.

Mr. Miles' attorney, Joel Sansone, has asked U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone to order that the officers were liable for excessive force, or hold a new trial on that subject. Mr. Sansone wrote in a motion last month that if the arrest was unwarranted, so was the force.

Mr. Sansone has argued that federal judges can alter or amend a jury verdict when they find that it is based on a clear error of law or fact, or that it caused a "manifest injustice."

The attorneys for officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak, however, countered in their filing that the jury "reached its verdict for reasons only known to the jury. This court should not alter the verdict."

"It is reasonable that a jury may have believed that while [Mr. Miles] should not have been arrested, that they believed that after [he] ran and assaulted the [officers], the [officers] acted reasonably and appropriately and within the minimal force necessary," the attorneys wrote.

They also noted that state law does not give subjects the right to resist arrest, even if the arrest is unlawful.

Mr. Sansone's response to the defense attorneys' bid to reduce the damage award is due Monday.

Mr. Miles, 22, encountered the three officers on Jan. 12, 2010, while walking one block from his mother's house to his grandmother's. After photographs of his swollen face emerged, the case became a centerpiece of police-community tensions.

A 2012 jury found that the officers did not maliciously prosecute Mr. Miles, but could not reach unanimity on the false arrest and excessive force counts.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord.

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