Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that:

The eight-member jury that heard the Jordan Miles civil trial today reached a mixed verdict, finding the three officers liable for the false arrest of Mr. Miles, but it found that they did not use excessive force.

 

The jury awarded compensatory damages of $101,016.75 plus punitive damages of $6,000 against each officer, for total damages of $119,016.75.

 

The all-white jury of four men and four women reached the verdict following 10 days of testimony, a solid day of closing arguments and deliberations that started Friday morning.

 

“It’s a victory on my behalf because the jury found the police officers to be guilty,” said Mr. Miles. “It’s not over, because God didn’t say it’s over.”

 

Joel Sansone, the attorney for Mr. Miles, said, “The police officers broke the rules, arrested my client and violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment.”

 

He said there were pre-trial decisions made by the judge that kept evidence out of the case that “points to the guilt of these police officers.”

 

Mr. Sansone called for a reopening of the federal criminal investigation of the officers.

 

“I cannot explain the jury’s failure to find excessive force,” Mr. Sansone said. Nor could he explain the verdict amount. “You realize a six-figure verdict, while it may not seem a lot to some, is a lot of money.”

 

The case hinged on the details of an arrest on Jan. 12, 2010, on Tioga Street in Homewood, and on the credibility of parties. Mr. Miles’ version of events differed radically from those of Pittsburgh police officers Michael Saldutte and David Sisak, and former city officer Richard Ewing, now with McCandless.

The article further states that:

Undisputed is that Mr. Miles, then 18, was walking from his mother’s house to his grandmother’s, around the block, at around 11 p.m.

 

Mr. Miles said he was holding a cell phone to his ear, talking with a friend. The officers said his hands were in his pockets, suggesting he was using a Bluetooth hands-free calling device.

 

Mr. Miles said he walked on the street, because the sidewalks were icy. The officers said he was seen huddled between two houses, then came out to the sidewalk.

 

The jury had to weigh whether the three plainclothes officers leapt from their unmarked car demanding of the plaintiff money, drugs and a gun, as Mr. Miles claimed, or calmly identified themselves as law enforcement and began asking questions.

 

Both sides agreed that Mr. Miles tried to run, and slipped on ice. The Homewood man said he never got up and didn’t fight, while the officers said he rose and elbowed the pursuing Officer Saldutte in the head.

 

The defense contended that Officer Sisak tried a Taser and then tackled Mr. Miles through a hedgerow, accounting for the twigs lodged in his mouth and the dreadlocks that tore free from his head. Mr. Miles has professed no recollection of a trip through the bushes.

 

Mr. Miles said he just curled up in a ball, while Officer Sisak said the young man donkey-kicked him in the knee.

 

Officer Ewing said he used a leg sweep to take Mr. Miles down.

 

Then there was the issue of the Mountain Dew bottle. The officers said they saw and then felt a bulge in Mr. Miles’ coat pocket, which turned out to be a bottle of the soft drink. Mr. Miles said he wasn’t carrying any bottle, and hates Mountain Dew.

 

Neither side disputes that the officers struck Mr. Miles repeatedly in his sides and finally his head, in an ultimately successful effort to get him handcuffed.

 

The Homewood man claimed someone choked him and struck him in the head after he was handcuffed, including a final clout with a hard object. The officers strenuously denied using any force after Mr. Miles was handcuffed.

 

Was Mr. Miles stripped of his coat before being placed in the police wagon? He said yes, the officers said no. There was likewise no agreement on the officers’ claim that they asked a neighbor if she knew him.

Associated Press also reports that:

Miles’ attorneys previously demanded $2 million to settle the case and rejected the city’s offer of $180,000. The city, instead, paid $75,000 to settle Miles’ claims against the government itself, with the understanding that money would be deducted from any damages award against the officers.

 

Because more than $41,000 of the verdict was covered by city insurance, the city’s $75,000 could be deducted from the remaining $78,000 — leaving Miles with a net award of $3,000, Wymard and Campbell said. And Miles could still wind up paying some of the officers’ attorneys’ fees because he didn’t win the case outright.

 

Sansone said he was still researching those claims and couldn’t immediately comment, but Wymard said, “Eventually, Miles may well be writing the City of Pittsburgh a check in this case.”

In America, the masses are inundated with a constant stream of the news reports about young black male criminal suspects.  The entertainment industry bombards the public with negative music, videos and movies depicting black men selling drugs and killing each other. Such imagery promotes the false notion that most black men are thugs, drug dealers, gangsters, public enemies and menaces.  As a result, society views our black skin as a badge of criminality.

For those reasons, the police automatically assume that an African American boy walking to his grandmother’s house at night must be engaged in some kind of criminal activity.  Due to his race, they wrongly assume that he must possess guns and drugs. Such assumptions give police departments around this country a license to stop, harass, beat and even kill black youth with impunity.  In the words of rapper KRS One, some police officers are like modern day overseers on urban plantations.

Jordan Miles
Jordan Miles

In this case, those three white police officers beat Jordan Miles beyond recognition. Those chumps beat Jordan Miles like he was a runaway slave.

To make matters even worst, an all white jury found that the police officers’ vicious brutality was justified. The jury’s verdict is completely incomprehensible.  On one hand, they found the officers liable for false arrest.  On the other hand, they found that the officers did not use excessive force against Jordan Miles.

Similar to the Michael Dunn verdict, the only explanation has to be race. The jury was all white.  The officers were white. The plaintiff was a young black man.  That jury obviously identified with those white police officers and found their testimony to be more creditable than a young black man’s testimony.  Sadly, even this Age of Obama, a black man’s testimony carries little weight in the court system. Jordan Miles’ battered and swollen face is a symbol of the judicial system’s brutality towards black people. It is the face of American injustice.

They give the brother a few dollars for his false arrest claim and they expect him and the community to be pacified. They expect us to just bow down and surrender.  Never.  As attorney Joel Sansone said, we must demand a federal criminal investigation.

Every other day, there is another incident of police brutality or white vigilantism. Every other day, there is another campaign for justice.  The names of the victims change, but the systemic problem of police brutality continues to fester.  Like an unabated plague, it moves from host to host, from victim to victim. Each black generation continues to experience this brutal cycle of state sponsored terrorism.  Today, it is Jordan Miles.  Tomorrow, it will be someone else.  When will this madness end?

[Originally posted at New Possibilities]