Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala decision not to prosecute the three officers who beat Jordan Miles was no big surprise. Even though his reasoning doesn’t make any sense at all. He sounds much like Jamie Foxx did in the movie “Law Abiding Citizen.”
His decision wasn’t based on right or wrong or what was just but whether he could win, when winning really shouldn’t have been his major concern.
If he had brought the three officers to trial it would have sent a message loud and clear to the entire police forces throughout Allegheny County and possibly the entire country that when you abuse your power, you will be tried in a court of law. Win or lose it would have sent a message out and the few bad officers on the force would have been a lot more reluctant to abuse their power.
Why couldn’t three well-trained big police officers subdue this small teenager without nearly beating him to death? Zappala made the statement that he has prosecuted police officers in the past. Yes, after they killed someone. Is this what it takes?
Plus, a trial would have been good for the police officers. If they had nothing to hide then they would have been cleared, because now they will always have this hanging over their heads. We all make mistakes and this was a big one that should have been cleared up in court.
I’m sure that in many situations violence is necessary. Jordan Miles is probably the exception, not the rule. I’ve heard kids call police officers everything but a child of God, after they had tried to be nice when responding from complaints from residents because of the loud noise, or other disturbances, which forces the officers to respond in not a very nice and friendly way. So by no way am I saying that the police are always wrong. But I am saying in this case they were, and in this case they should have been brought to trial.
And even more importantly, decisions to prosecute should not always be based upon whether you can win, but more importantly is it the right thing to do. This says to bad cops that they can do just about anything they want to and there will be no consequences as long as they don’t kill the victim.
There has to be some kind of system put into place to police the police. And the best way is the court system, in which the citizens are the final judges determining what punishment if any is to be issued, since they pay the taxes. But we need DAs who are more concerned with justice than winning. Sometimes a loss can send a huge message. But now we will never know.
(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)