Zappala won't charge officers in Jordan Miles case

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Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. announced this morning that there is "not a prosecutable case" against three white Pittsburgh police officers resulting from their efforts to subdue Jordan Miles in January 2010.

Mr. Miles, who had just turned 18 and was an honor student at Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts, was walking to his grandmother's house in Homewood. He was injured during the arrest and supporters describe his case as an example of racial profiling.

Police said Mr. Miles appeared to be carrying a weapon, although none was found, and had fled from Officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing, who were working undercover out of the city's Zone 5 station in Highland Park.

Mr. Zappala said he and his investigators had reviewed four separate expert reports in the case and read the transcripts of the civil case under way by lawyers for Mr. Miles.

"I agree with the federal government," Mr. Zapalla said in a news conference.

He was referring to the decision of the U.S. Attorney's office not to bring charges of civil rights violations against any of the officers involved in the case.

Mr. Miles' mother, Terez Miles, who spoke on his behalf because he wasn't home this afternoon, said he is "disappointed but not shocked" by Mr. Zappala's decision."My only shock was that it took him this long to come out and admit it," she said.

Mr. Zappala announced his decision one day after Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson asked his colleagues on council to look into what he described as possible conflicts of interests involving the district attorney's office in cases involving citizens' claims of police misconduct.

Council can initiate such a probe as part of its oversight of all county spending, Mr. Robinson said.

An organization called The Alliance for Police Accountability has held a series of rallies around the city to demand that policemen involved in the case be criminally charged.

In police reports, the three officers said they confronted Mr. Miles because he appeared to be "sneaking around" a house in the 7900 block of Tioga Street with a heavy object in his coat that they thought was a concealed weapon.

They said they identified themselves as police and ordered him to stop, but he refused. They charged him with crimes including aggravated assault and resisting arrest, all of which were later dismissed by District Judge Oscar Petite Jr.

Mr. Miles' attorney, J. Kerrington Lewis, said he never expected Mr. Zappala to press charges because "it's hard to be objective when the DA works with the police in literally every case."

"He's weighed in with his opinion, which is not surprising," said Mr. Lewis, who is also representing Mr. Miles in a pending federal lawsuit against the officers. That case is scheduled for jury trial on July 16.

"He has a jury of his peers who can decide the case rather than politicians and talking heads," Mr. Lewis said.

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Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1159. Sadie Gurman: sgurman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. First Published May 16, 2012 4:00 AM


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