Defense in Jordan Miles case pushes to depose FBI agent

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In briefs filed Friday and late Tuesday, pre-trial sparring in the Jordan Miles police abuse case turned to the defense's desire to depose an FBI agent who was involved in the Department of Justice's probe of the Jan. 12, 2010, encounter between the Homewood man and three Pittsburgh officers.

With trial set to start on July 16, attorneys for the officers have asked U.S. District Court Chief Judge Gary L. Lancaster for permission to depose FBI Agent Sonia Bush.

Ms. Bush conducted "numerous interviews with witnesses and obtained responses from key witnesses that would adversely affect the allegations" made by Mr. Miles, attorneys for the officers wrote in a Friday brief. Ms. Bush has refused to be informally interviewed, so they want to depose her.

They acknowledged that the deadline for discovery has passed -- that part of the legal process closed in October -- but wrote that Ms. Bush's role came to light late. The defense subpoenaed the FBI in July, but didn't get portions of the file that revealed Ms. Bush's importance until October, they wrote.

Not so, wrote attorneys for Mr. Miles in a response filed late Tuesday. Ms. Bush interviewed the three defendants -- officers David Sisak, Richard Ewing and Michael Saldutte -- between March and June 2010, they wrote.

"The defendants' apparent decision to call Ms. Bush at trial, made long after discovery has closed in this case and long after defendants knew of Ms. Bush's identity and in fact had received the complete investigatory file, does not justify taking her deposition at this late date on the eve of trial," they wrote.

It is up to Judge Lancaster to decide whether to compel the deposition.

In a case that has become a centerpiece of concerns about police-community relations, Mr. Miles said officers didn't identify themselves and then beat him. The officers said they identified themselves, he ran, and he appeared to have a gun which turned out to be a soda bottle.

The Department of Justice opted not to charge the police criminally.

Much of the pre-trial maneuvering has focused on determining what Mr. Miles told friends after the encounter and what a witness said to police immediately after it.

neigh_city - breaking - legalnews

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. First Published May 16, 2012 9:15 AM


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