The jury in the Jordan Miles civil trial was sent home about 4:30 p.m. today after failing to reach a unanimous verdict in the case based on a violent confrontation with three Pittsburgh police officers.
U.S. District Chief Judge Gary Lancaster sent the jury home after bringing them into the courtroom earlier in the day to urge members to keep trying to reach a unanimous verdict.
They will return tomorrow to continue deliberating.
Attorneys for both sides said that the jury had reached agreement on one count, but not the other two. They would not say whether that agreement was in favor of the plaintiffs or defense, or whether it was the false arrest, excessive force or malicious prosecution count.
If the jury is able to reach unanimous agreement on one count, but not the other two, then the judge has two options. He could declare an overall mistrial, likely leading to a retrial. Or he could accept the verdict on the one count, leaving it up to the plaintiff to decide whether to push for a retrial on the other two.
The attorneys had little comment as they left the courthouse.
"I understand that you are having some difficulties reaching unanimous agreement," Judge Lancaster told the five men and three women, who have been deliberating since 3 p.m. on Thursday. "I'm going to ask you to return to the jury room and deliberate further. Each of you must decide the case for yourself."
They should try to reach agreement, the judge said, but not at the cost of their own consciences.
"You should not be influenced to vote in a certain way, however, by the single fact that most of you want to vote a single way," he said.
He urged them to "recognize that you are not infallible."
He said the jurors should "take the time you need."
A verdict would end a three-week trial in which Mr. Miles, 20, accused Pittsburgh police officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak of beating, falsely arresting and maliciously prosecuting him.
The jury can find unanimously for Mr. Miles, in which case the city would pay the verdict and possibly the plaintiff's attorneys' fees; find unanimously for the defense in which case no damages would be awarded; or close the trial with a hung jury, meaning a second trial would be scheduled.
Mr. Miles, 20, 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. Those charges were dismissed.
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 -- which the plaintiff said he did not have -- 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.
Rich Lord: email@example.com or 412-263-1542. First Published August 7, 2012 6:30 PM