Complaints against police excluded in Miles civil trial

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A federal judge ruled Friday that past complaints against three officers accused of using excessive force and falsely arresting Homewood man Jordan Miles will not be allowed as evidence in a civil trial set to start next week.

U.S. District Judge David Cercone found that the officers' past acts would reflect on motive, but that motive is irrelevant in false arrest and excessive force cases. What is relevant is whether there was probable cause to make the arrest and whether "the officer used force that was objectively reasonable under the circumstances and facts confronting him at that time," the judge wrote in a four-page order.

If past acts "are linked with the acts at issue" in a case, then they might be introduced, the judge wrote. But he found no evidence that prior incidents involving the officers are linked to the Jan. 12, 2010, altercation with Mr. Miles in Homewood.

Judge Cercone added that the evidence brought forward by Mr. Miles' attorneys could create "unfair prejudice" against the officers as well as "undue delay" in the trial.

Jury selection starts Monday in Mr. Miles' second trial accusing officers Michael Saldutte and David Sisak, of Pittsburgh, and Richard Ewing, formerly of Pittsburgh. Mr. Miles, 22, has accused the three of beating and arresting him without provocation. The officers have said that he was acting suspiciously, seemed to have a weapon, ran and resisted arrest.

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


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

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