Jury selection completed in Jordan Miles' civil case against police officers

Attorneys for Homewood man Jordan Miles and for the three police officers who arrested him four years ago picked a jury with relative ease Monday, but the amiable process should give way to contention today with opening arguments and initial witnesses as his second civil trial begins.

"I think it was a very fair jury selection process," said attorney Bryan Campbell, who represents Pittsburgh police Officer Michael Saldutte.

"I expect justice will be served by this jury," said attorney Joel Sansone, one of the attorneys representing Mr. Miles, 22.

Jury selection begins in Jordan Miles civil trial

Jury selection in a second civil trial stemming from Jordan Miles' allegations of police abuse is underway. (Video by Nate Guidry; reporting by Rich Lord; 3/10/2014)

Selection took a day, compared to a day and a half during the 2012 trial stemming from the Jan. 12, 2010, incident on Tioga Street. That trial ended with exoneration for the officers on a malicious prosecution count, and a minority of jurors finding for Mr. Miles on excessive force and false arrest counts. Those two counts are the subject of the retrial.

The first jury included one African-American, while the new jury is all white, with four men and four women. The case has racial overtones because Mr. Miles is black and the officers are white.

The initial pool of jurors, drawn from 13 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties, included 61 people, including five African-Americans. An African-American woman was the fifth potential juror in line, but the other four black panelists were in the latter half of the pool and never reached consideration.

The woman seated fifth, from East Liberty, expressed strong feelings about the case in questioning in U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone's chambers, and was disqualified. Four white panelists were also disqualified, before 14 finalists, all white, were chosen. Each side eliminated three jurors, leaving eight.

The men include a maintenance worker from Hookstown, a retiree from Cowansville, an account manager from Castle Shannon and a maintenance technician from Natrona Heights.

The women are a marketer from Mount Washington, a medical worker from North Huntingdon, a clerical supervisor from Daisytown and an insurance analyst from Hopewell.

Along with Officer Saldutte, defendant officers David Sisak and Richard Ewing sat through the selection process. Officers Sisak and Saldutte are with the Pittsburgh police force; Officer Ewing left the city force for McCandless in 2012.

Trial is expected to start with opening arguments by Mr. Miles' attorneys, Downtown-based Joel Sansone and Michigan-based Robert Giroux. The attorneys for the officers can make opening statements or defer until the plaintiff's case is done.

Judge Cercone said he expects the trial to last 21/2 weeks, four days per week.

Mr. Miles has said the officers did not identify themselves as police, chased him down and beat him while demanding that he show them money and drugs. The officers said he was lurking around someone else's house, appeared to be armed and fled when they identified themselves as police, then resisted arrest.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or on Twitter @richelord. First Published March 10, 2014 9:30 AM


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