Jordan Miles jury finds for Pittsburgh police in partial verdict


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An eight-member jury decided in favor of three Pittsburgh police officers on Jordan Miles' accusation of malicious prosecution and a judge ordered a mistrial on two other counts, ending a three-week civil trial but setting up an as-yet-unscheduled retrial on whether the officers falsely arrested the young Homewood man and used excessive force.

"We feel this is a win, obviously a major win," said James Wymard, attorney for Officer David Sisak.

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The officers welcome the next trial, their lawyers said.

"They want to be vindicated on the other two counts," said attorney Robert Leight, attorney for Officer Richard Ewing.

Mr. Miles' attorney, J. Kerrington Lewis, said his client "believes in this case. ... We're going to go back at it."

Mr. Miles' other attorney, Timothy O'Brien, said there are evidentiary issues that may be decided differently the second time around, which he felt could favor the plaintiff.

Officer Ewing and co-defendant Officer Michael Saldutte left U.S. District Court without saying a word. Officer Sisak did not attend the reading of the verdict.

Mr. Miles and his mother, Terez Miles, likewise declined comment.

Jurors seen leaving the courthouse would not speak to reporters.

U.S. District Chief Judge Gary L. Lancaster had the jury brought into the courtroom shortly after 2 p.m. He asked the foreman, an African-American man, whether they were at an impasse on two of the counts.

"Yes, we are hopelessly deadlocked, your honor," the foreman said.

Courtroom Deputy Michael Palus then read the verdict slip as to whether the officers "violated [Mr. Miles'] Fourth Amendment rights by subjecting him to malicious prosecution? Answer: No."

In a criminal or a civil case determined to be baseless, the defendant or respondent can choose to file a claim of malicious prosecution against those who took active part in the original case.

In his lawsuit, Mr. Miles, 20, accused officers Ewing, Saldutte and Sisak of beating, falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting him.

The mistrials came on the charges of beating and falsely arresting Mr. Miles.

Mr. Miles testified that he was walking down Homewood's Tioga Street, from his mother's house to his grandmother's house, on Jan. 12, 2010, when an unmarked car with three plainclothes officers pulled up.

He said they did not identify themselves as police and jumped out of the car demanding to know where he had drugs, guns and money.

He said they chased him down and beat him, before and after handcuffing him, then charged him with aggravated assault, loitering, escape and resisting arrest -- charges that were later dropped.

The officers have countered that they saw Mr. Miles hiding beside a neighbor's house, identified themselves as police and became suspicious when he said it was not his home.

They said they mistook a bulge in his coat caused by a Mountain Dew bottle -- of which the plaintiff denied the existence -- for a gun, and when he ran, they gave chase.

He elbowed Officer Saldutte in the head and kicked Officer Sisak, they testified, and resisted arrest until Officer Ewing stunned him with a knee strike to the head.

They vehemently denied using force after he was handcuffed.

The case has engendered more tension between representatives of city communities, especially African-American neighborhoods, and police than any since the 1995 death of Jonny Gammage in a suburban traffic stop.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. First Published August 8, 2012 5:45 PM


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