You’re walking to your grandmother’s house and a group of men jump out of a van and start chasing you. None of them tell you that they are police officers, and they are not in police cars. You run away, thinking that you’re being kidnapped and the men beat you within an inch of your life. Shouldn’t these men be punished for what they did?
Not according to a jury in Pittsburgh. Three white officers were acquitted after beating a 17-year old honor student, Jordan Miles, so severely that he had to spend weeks in the hospital. One of the dreadlocks had even been ripped out of his head. The jury deliberated for five days and the group of five men and three women came back with a not-guilty verdict. There was only one black person on the jury, creating serious racial tensions and undertones in the entire Pittsburgh community.
Miles was chased because he was a young black male in a high crime neighborhood. Officers had no other reason for chasing him and beating him that night.
“It’s a good win for us,” said James Wymard, the attorney for Officer David Sisak.
“We said all along once this case was exposed to the light of daylight these allegations would not stand,” said Robert Leight, attorney for another defendant, Officer Richard Ewing.
“There will be a new trial on the most important issue: Was there excessive force?” said Tim O’Brien, one of Miles’ attorneys.
The officers claim that they stopped Miles because he “appeared to be lurking” near a neighbor’s home. But the woman who owned the home said that she knew him and had no problem with him being there. They also claimed that a soda bottle in his pocket made them think he had a gun. They claimed it was Mountain Dew, but Miles says he never drinks Mountain Dew.
Miles was walking a block to visit his grandmother when he was attacked. The officers, dressed in plain clothes, came up and asked him for money, drugs and a gun. That’s when the attack took place.
At the time of the incident, Mile was a senior at the Performing Arts School in Pittsburgh and had no criminal record. He was charged with assaulting police, loitering, prowling at night, resisting arrest and escape. Miles says he only ran away because he felt he was being robbed.
The charges against Miles were dismissed, but the officers have yet to be punished. Miles’ attorneys plan to file an appeal.