Judge dismisses charges against teen beaten by police

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A judge today dismissed all charges against Pittsburgh high school student Jordan Miles, who claims he was badly beaten by three police officers during his arrest in Homewood.

Saying that he considered the weight of all the witnesses equally, District Judge Oscar Petite Jr. said he had no choice.

"When I look at everything in this case, I'm left with no other alternative but to dismiss all charges against Jordan Miles," the judge said.

He left open the possibility that prosecutors could refile the case, though not using the same affidavit.

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Comments by Jordan Miles after charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest were dismissed.

Mr. Miles, 18, was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest in a Jan. 12 incident in which police said he was "sneaking around" a house on Tioga Street with a heavy object in his coat that they thought was a gun.

A criminal complaint said he ran from plainclothes Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak when they ordered him to stop and assaulted two of them. Police said the object in his coat turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew.

But this morning, Mr. Miles' attorney, Kerrington Lewis, made much of the bottle. It was never taken into evidence, Officer Saldutte testified.

That's because it didn't exist, Mr. Lewis replied.

Testimony during the preliminary hearing turned on a section of the affidavit of probable cause in which officers claimed they spoke with a resident in the 7900 block of Tioga that night, and that she said she didn't know Mr. Miles, and that he should not have been on her property.

However, the woman who lives there, Monica Wooding, testified on Mr. Miles' behalf that she never made that statement to the officers. She's known Mr. Miles for several years, and he's friends with her son.

During argument, Mr. Lewis told Judge Petite that the affidavit was defective because it included perjured statements, and therefore the case should be dismissed.

"Officers are witnesses just like everybody else. No witness is any more important than another," he said.

In a written statement this afternoon, Mike Manko, a spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said the office will review the dismissal.

"In this instance, the judge assigned substantial legal significance to the testimony of the victim of the prowling charge," he said. "Our office will have to take a close look at that."

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he'll likely make a recommendation next week about the status of the three city police officers involved in the case, who are on suspension.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he can move forward in light of today's preliminary hearing.

The officers were initially moved from a plainclothes detail to uniformed duty, then they were suspended with pay Feb. 1.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

First Published March 4, 2010 5:00 PM


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