PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Testimony began this afternoon after opening statements concluded in the second trial of the civil suit brought by Jordan Miles against three police officers after an incident in Homewood in January of 2010.
Jordan Miles’ lawsuit contends police violated his civil rights through the wrongful arrest and the use of excessive force.
Attorneys presented opening statements this morning in federal court.
Some of the arguments are the same, but there is a new focus this time.
The last trial ended in August 2012 with a jury finding Miles was not the target of a malicious prosecution, but they were hung on whether he was the victim of an illegal arrest and whether he was the victim of excessive force.
Those issues are the focus of this trial.
The last jury had one African American member. This jury is made up of four white men and four white women.
There’s still major disagreement on each side about whether Miles knew he was dealing with police officers on the January 2010 night he was arrested.
Miles ended up going to the hospital after the encounter.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Robert Giroux – who is new to the case – argued to the jury: “They jumped to a wrong conclusion and brutally beat him. They found no drugs, no drug money and no weapon. They created a report to cover their tracks.”
But attorney James Wymard, who represents Officer David Sisak, says the blame for all that happened rests with Miles.
“All he had to do was stop like any reasonable person would have done and we wouldn’t be here today. He knew they were police officers. He had no right to be resistive,” Wymard said.
Opening statements ended shortly after noon. Then, later this afternoon, the first witness took the stand.
Jordan Miles grandmother, retired teacher Patricia Porter, was the first witness for the plaintiffs.
She recalled the frantic hours wondering where he was the night of his encounter with police. After calling CAPA High, realizing he didn’t show up for school the next day, she called police and learned he was in jail. Then, he called her.
“He said, ‘I’m in jail. I’ve been arrested, but I just don’t know why,’” she said.
At the Allegheny County Jail, the family finally saw him and was shocked at what they saw.
“The next thing I heard was my daughter,” Porter said. “My daughter was screaming, ‘My son, my son! Look what they did to my son!'”
She testified his recovery has been slow. He was once a promising musician.
“I haven’t seen him play the violin since,” she testified. “Since then he became sullen and very depressed. He’s better now, but he’s still not 100 percent. He still has difficulty sleeping.”
Miles claims he was beaten for being a young black man in a high-crime area. The officers acknowledge beating Miles because they mistook him for an armed prowler.
Attorney Al Lindsay, of Lindsay Law Firm in Butler County, says he believes that this is a civil case but there is a little bit of a criminal undertone.
“What you’re dealing with is a confrontation or interaction between police officers and a citizen,” said Lindsay. “And the justification for the police officers interacting with him is, of course, a suspect criminal activity.”
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