Jordan Miles' mother, doctor testify at trial


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After six days of testimony from relatives, officers, experts and doctors, a jury is expected to hear Jordan Miles' account of his three-minute encounter with Pittsburgh police that, according to his side, left him depressed and permanently brain damaged.

The trial has been slowed by feisty objections and testy cross-examination -- notably of the plaintiff's mother and physician who testified Wednesday. Defense attorneys used cross-examination of those witnesses to suggest to the jury that Mr. Miles and his partisans will change their stories and exaggerate symptoms to advance their litigation.

Mr. Miles "saw you on three occasions," defense attorney Bryan Campbell said to physiatrist Maria Twichell of UPMC Mercy Hospital, who treated the Homewood man in late 2011 and early 2012. "You were able to write a report for his attorney. ... He has never come back."

Attorneys talk about testimony in Jordan Miles case

Attorneys for both sides of the Jordan Miles case offered opinions on today's testimony. (Video by Nate Guidry; 3/19/2014)

Dr. Twichell said Mr. Miles stopped treatment because he lost his insurance.

Mr. Miles has maintained that on Jan. 12, 2010, plainclothes Officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing jumped out of an unmarked car and chased him down, demanding money, guns or drugs before beating and arresting him.

The officers have said they saw Mr. Miles between two houses, identified themselves, questioned him and chased him when he ran. They said he elbowed and kicked officers, and because they thought he had a gun, they used force to subdue him.

Terez Miles said that prior to the incident her son "definitely had plans to go to college. ... He wanted to make something of his life."

The day after his 18th birthday, he arrived at his mother's house around 8 or 9 p.m., Ms. Miles said. He left a little before 11 for his grandmother's house, a block away, where he routinely slept, she said.

She said he did not leave with the Mountain Dew bottle the officers have said they found on him, adding that he doesn't drink soda.

A short time thereafter, Ms. Miles got a call from her mother, Patricia Porter, saying that he had not arrived there.

"Why didn't you go looking for him?" asked Joel Sansone, one of Mr. Miles' attorneys.

"I didn't want to find my son's body," she said. "I soaked one side of my pillow with tears" then flipped it and soaked the other.

"You didn't call the police, did you?" asked defense attorney James Wymard, on cross-examination.

"No," Ms. Miles said.

"You didn't call any neighbors?"

"No."

When Ms. Miles picked up her son from the Allegheny County Jail nearly 24 hours after his arrest, she testified, "I just went hysterical because I didn't recognize the face at all."

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Robert Leight, Ms. Miles admitted that she stopped on the way to UPMC Shadyside to pick up a disposable camera.

"So you wanted to get a camera before you even took him to the hospital?" Mr. Leight mused.

Ms. Miles wept as she described shearing off her son's dreadlocks, because several had been ripped from his head in the incident and they wouldn't grow back right.

"He loved having dreadlocks," she said. "I loved them."

She said her son tried college twice, but it didn't work out.

Dr. Twichell, who specializes in brain injury, said she found concussion and post-concussion syndrome "in the mild to moderate range." She said the damage was consistent with his account of blows to the head and was permanent. "He wasn't trying to exaggerate or falsify the information," she said.

Under cross-examination, Dr. Twichell confirmed that Mr. Miles came to her with a written list of 16 symptoms.

"When a 19-year-old hands you a list with 16 complaints like this," asked Mr. Campbell, "does that raise a red flag?"

Dr. Twichell said that head injury patients bring lists "fairly often" because their memories are poor.

Mr. Campbell suggested that her team's finding that Mr. Miles had the math skills of a fifth- or sixth-grader was inconsistent with his B-minus in college intermediate algebra. Mr. Campbell also told the doctor that Mr. Miles indicated no history of concussion when he applied for a driver's permit in June 2010.

"He did not receive a diagnosis of concussion until he saw me in 2011," she said.

In 2012, a jury found that the officers did not maliciously prosecute Mr. Miles, but a minority of jurors found that they falsely arrested him and used excessive force. That resulted in a mistrial and the current case before U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter: @richelord. First Published March 19, 2014 11:22 AM


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