Monday’s mixed verdict in the civil trial of three Pittsburgh police officers accused of beating Jordan Miles is a lot like the incident itself and the subsequent investigations and court claims: The outcome satisfied no one.
For Mr. Miles of Homewood, an African-American teen on the way to his grandmother’s house four years ago when he was stopped by three white, plainclothes officers, it was both vindication and disappointment.
The jury said he was falsely arrested, agreeing with his contention from the beginning that he had done nothing to provoke the police stop. That claim also had been supported just a month after the Jan. 12, 2010, incident when charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest against him were dismissed. Nonetheless, the same federal court jury that said the arrest was wrong concluded the officers did not use excessive force, a determination at odds with the injuries Mr. Miles sustained but not necessarily with the officers’ description of what unfolded in the dark of night on Tioga Street.
For the police, the verdict cleared them of beating Mr. Miles, but not as completely as they believe was warranted. Officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak say they did nothing wrong.
Appeals from either side, as well as another federal investigation of the officers, seem pointless now.
Separate inquiries by the Allegheny County district attorney’s office and the U.S. attorney’s office closed without any charges being filed, and further criminal probes aren’t likely to reach a different conclusion.
On the civil side, it took two jury trials to get a complete verdict in response to Mr. Miles’ lawsuit; in the first one, jurors found only that the officers had not engaged in a malicious prosecution but deadlocked on the two other claims.
The best course now would be for the city to repair the damage from this disturbing incident by building better relations between police officers and the communities they serve.