Miles charges dropped, police protest may follow

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To the relief of his family and supporters, after two delayed hearings, charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest against Jordan Miles were finally dropped last week.

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VINDICATION—Jordan Miles, the CAPA High School senior who said he was beaten during a Jan. 12 arrest, talks with reporters after having assault and resisting arrest charges dropped March 4.

While reaction from the Black community was a mix of relief and calls for further action, according to two city police officers, some bureau members are calling for payback.

The two officers, who asked to remain anonymous, said a text message blast went out some time March 5 calling for officers to either refuse to patrol Homewood and to “take their time” responding to any calls there.

 

“So you’re telling me I either go along, or if I’m in Homewood and there’s a situation, I’m not getting any backup?” said one officer. “Who’s going to protect me? Who’s going to protect the public?”

Assistant Chief Paul Donaldson found the text disturbing enough to respond in an e-mail of his own:

“I have heard some disturbing rumors that some officers are contemplating a work slowdown or diminished patrols, in response to the recent events revolving around Jordan Miles. Any such actions are forbidden and would be detrimental to the involved officers and the entire bureau.

“Decisions are made by magistrates, judges and juries that we do not agree with, but must accept. This does not give us cause to personally attack those who are tasked with making those decisions. I am certain that these are merely rumors, but felt a need to address it.”

As for “personally attacking” Petite, the officers who spoke to the Courier said they are aware of at least one T-shirt worn by an officer during a weekend party that read, “F— Petite.”

“There’s a group that has also ordered “Ravenstahl Hates Police” shirts and they plan on selling them at a party for Michael Saldutte, Richard Ewing and David Sisak, the officer said. “Jordan Miles is the tip of the iceberg. They only got caught because they beat the wrong person.”

Miles, a star viola player at Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts High School, with plans to study criminal justice at Penn State after graduation, was arrested Jan. 12 in Homewood by three plainclothes officers. During the arrest Miles was allegedly Tasered, had a chunk of hair pulled out and a tree branch jammed through his lip. He was hospitalized twice.

In their report, officers Saldutte, Ewing and Sisak claimed he resisted arrest after they found him prowling around a house on Tioga Street. Miles said he ran from them because they never identified themselves as police officers.

During the hearing Saldutte was asked about part of the affidavit saying that after handcuffing Miles, he called to Monica Wooding who owns the home and asked if she knew him. According to the affidavit, she said she did not know Miles. Miles’ attorney Kerry Lewis called Wooding as a witness.

Not only did she know him, she said, but her son plays basketball with him. That is what she told police, she said.

Lewis then asked Saldutte how three man, all nearly six feet tall and weighing 200 pounds could not subdue the 150-pound, 5-6 Miles without inflicting severe injuries. He also asked about the “weapon” the officers said they though Miles had.

According to the affidavit the officers said they saw something heavy in his coat pocket, but it later turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. If that is true, where is it? Lewis asked. No such bottle was turned in as evidence and Miles said he never had one.

Lewis then asked that the charges be dropped because the affidavit contained possible perjured statements. Petite agreed. He dismissed the charges saying the prosecution could always re-file them—but not with the original affidavit.

“This proves that I was telling the truth. I don’t want to have everybody looking at me negatively just because of the place where I live or the color of my skin,” he said. “I go to a very prestigious school. I get good grades, I don’t want anyone to have an impression of me that I’m some gang-banger just because of the neighborhood that I live in.”

According to another e-mail, a party will be held at Stinky’s Bar and Grill in Lawrenceville, March 21 and is intended to raise funds for possible legal bills incurred by Saldutte, Ewing and Sisak. However, the Fraternal Order of Police has already hired prominent defense attorneys Jim Wymard, Robert Del Greco and William Difenderfer in anticipation of formal charges.

Both the FBI and the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations have looked into the actions in the Miles’ arrest. Though neither will comment on their findings, the mayor’s office said the OMI findings could be announced any day.

A public hearing on three bills introduced by city Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess as the Jordan Miles Public Safety Reform Agenda, covering police accreditation, suspensions and placing video equipment in all police cars is scheduled for March 10 at 6 p.m. at the Homewood Library.

The Community Empowerment Association has also scheduled a meeting for March 13 from 2-4 p.m. to discuss how to change police brutality policies and procedures following the Miles arrest.

(For more information contact Lee Davis 412-371-3689, ext. 23.)

(Send comments to cmorrow@ newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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