City may pay Jordan Miles $75,000 to exit brutality lawsuit
February 4, 2012 10:00 AM
A partial settlement to be put before city council Tuesday would dismiss the city and its officials from a police brutality lawsuit filed by Jordan Miles, pictured at left at a June 15, 2011, news conference with Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project.
By Joe Smydo Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The city of Pittsburgh would pay $75,000 and Jordan Miles would drop parts of his federal police brutality lawsuit under a partial settlement to be put before city council Tuesday.
City solicitor Daniel Regan declined comment because council members had not yet been briefed on the proposal. Timothy O'Brien, one of Mr. Miles' attorneys, referred questions to co-counsel J. Kerrington Lewis, who could not be reached Friday.
The partial settlement would dismiss the city and its officials from the suit, but leave intact the claims against the three officers Mr. Miles accused of beating him on a Homewood street in January 2010. Under that arrangement, the city likely would remain on the hook financially for a verdict or settlement involving the officers.
"The fact is, the city would still be responsible if a jury finds them negligent or whatever," police Union President Dan O'Hara said. Mr. O'Hara said he hadn't been briefed on the settlement proposal.
Legislation authorizing the partial settlement will be introduced in council Tuesday.
Last year, the city offered Mr. Miles $180,000 to settle all claims. Mr. Miles turned down the offer, which the city made under a federal rule that prevents plaintiffs from recovering legal fees if a verdict yields damages equivalent to or less than the amount offered in a settlement.
Mr. Miles, who is black, claimed that the white undercover police officers attacked him without provocation as he walked between his mother's and grandmother's homes.
Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak claimed that Mr. Miles, who was a high school honors student with no criminal record, appeared to have a gun and ran when told to stop. No weapon was found.
Photos of Mr. Miles' swollen face inflamed parts of the city and drew calls for police reform. Councilman Ricky Burgess pushed through legislation requiring cameras in police cars, demanding the speedy completion of a department accreditation process and expanding the department's annual report to the public.
The U.S. attorney's office declined to charge the officers, but Mr. Miles filed the federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and officers.
The partial settlement would drop Mr. Miles' claims that the city failed to train officers properly and otherwise mismanaged the department.
That change would spare the city the continued burden of its own defense and the risk of a verdict on those claims should the case go to trial. But it wouldn't put the city in the clear entirely.
Left intact would be Mr. Miles' allegations of misconduct against the individual officers, whose legal team, Mr. O'Hara said, has included city lawyers and police union attorney Bryan Campbell.
Because the city indemnifies officers against most job-related litigation, it likely would remain financially responsible for a verdict or settlement involving the officers. With city responsible for any payouts, Mr. O'Hara said, he believes that city attorneys will continue to play a role in the officers' defense.