Police Abuse

Jury Decides Pittsburgh Arrest Was Wrongful But Dismisses Brutality Claim; Both Sides Want Reversal

|

cops say they were just doing their job, and proud of it
Jordan Miles

Jordan Miles was an 18-year-old high school music student going to his grandmother's house on a January evening in 2010 when three undercover cops tried to approach him, later saying the teenager had looked "suspicious" and seemed to be "sneaking around." They also said they thought a Mountain Dew bottle inside his coat was a gun.

Miles decided to run, saying police hadn't identified themselves, but he tripped and fell and police caught up to him. The cops say they identified themselves, but Miles says they only asked him where the drugs, money, and gun were. As Radley Balko noted when writing about the case, those are just the kind of inquiries that also signal robberies.

The three officers then beat the teenager up, punching him in the face, kneeing him in the head, and tearing off a clump of his hair. As Balko wrote, Miles, who is black, would seem justified to run whether or not he knew the plainclothes white men approaching him were actual police officers. Police dispute the account, saying Miles fought them while they tried to question him and then ran. They charged Miles with assault, resisting arrest, and other crimes. They were dismissed by a city magistrate who did not find the police account believable.

Miles sued. In 2012 a jury rejected Miles' claim that police maliciously prosecuted him. A retrial ended in March, with a jury reaching a split verdict. Miles was awarded $119,000 for being falsely arrested—enough to cover his medical bills plus $60,000. Each of the three cops was "assessed" $6,000 in damages, which the city will be paying. The jury, however, dismissed Miles' claim of excessive force by police.

Both sides are now seeking to see the verdict altered. Miles' attorneys argue that any force would be excessive if the initial arrest was false. The city, meanwhile, wants the award reduced based on a previous settlement over Miles' medical bills.

After the verdict the attorney for one of the cops said the police officers did nothing wrong. "Knowing these three officers?and we've talked about it?they'd do it all over again. They did nothing wrong. They have nothing to be ashamed of," said the attorney for Officer Richard Ewing, who now works in McCandless, Pennsylvania. He dismissed the verdict as a "sympathy" ruling. The other two cops, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak, remain on the force in Pittsburgh.

NEXT: Retired General Says 'We Should Have Tried' to Send Help to Benghazi During Attack

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. He didn’t obey. He’s lucky to be alive.

    1. He should have just given up the Jew gold. The real Jew gold.

  2. Democrat controlled government harass and abuse black man.

    I blame the tea party.

    1. n Tucson, Arizona, prospective ice cream men must get their fingerprints taken by the cops before being granted a license. In Napa, California, regulations state that you must be both “interviewed and fingerprinted by the Napa Police Department.” All around the country, in fact, people who want to sell frozen treats have to check in with law enforcement first.

      Don Knabe, the chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, is completely on board with this trend?in fact, he wants LA County, population 10 million, to subject every ice cream truck driver within its borders to the same screening process applied to those seeking to conduct commerce involving “explosives, weapons, and adult businesses.” That means “inkless electronic fingerprinting,” which can be used to generate “a report of criminal history” and kept in a database forever. Knabe plans on introducing the measure this May.

    2. You’re driving around, offering children treats out of the back of a van. These guys should be on a sex-offender registry!

      1. You know what the worst part is about being a child molester? Trying to get the blood stains out of your ice cream man suit.

      2. Why the fuck would anyone take that job any more? The government crawls up your ass, every parent looks at you as if you are going to kidnap or poison their kids, and there can’t even be much margin in it. I’m really surprised they still exist.

        1. A lot of people really like making kids happy. Of course the government hates them, because why wouldn’t it?

        2. All the ice cream men around here are Hispanics – obviously doing jobs that Americans won’t do đŸ˜‰

        3. There aren’t nearly as many. My daughter turned 5 last week. Haven’t seen one ice cream truck anywhere her entire life. They used to come around all the time when I was a kid (year round, since I grew up in Florida). Miss that.

          1. They used to come around all the time when I was a kid (year round, since I grew up in Florida). Miss that

            I don’t. even as a kid, the ‘music’ they played annoyed the crap out of me. It didn’t help that we never did business with them (those willing to work our neighborhood were not the most trustworthy people, plus we were poor).

            1. Oh come on, buzzy-mcfunkill.

        4. One guy used to drive around the neighborhood, always playing one, and only one, old-timey song on the speaker.

          I suspect that he stopped coming around when they carted him off to the nuthouse, after hearing that one song played thousands and thousands of times.

          1. As long as it’s “Turkey in the straw” it’s OK with me. I could listen to that forever.

            1. My dad would always sing “Do Your Ears Hang Low” to that tune, but instead of “ears” he would say “balls.” He still does it to this day, and it makes me laugh every single time.

    3. We had the best icecream man when I was in college.
      He’d do the usual thing most days, selling to kids and whatnot, but he’d also come to various campus drug taking events (we had two sort of semi-official campus holidays which were basically days where everyone would take lots of psychedelics) and sell icecream and sometimes mushrooms to the students. Once a year he would throw a keg party to show his appreciation. Cool guy.

  3. Not only does this peasant resist our Brave Public Heroes and assault their righteous hands and knees with his Assault Face, but he’s rewarded for it by a jury of ignorant bigorati?

    What is this country coming to?

    /policeone

  4. Is it just me or is Reason particularly depressing today?

    1. There are days where Reason isn’t depressing?

    2. Yeah, today seems to be “Nutpunch Thursday.”

      I need a unicorn chaser. I wish the Friday Funny was here.

      Oh wait…

      Never mind.

      1. Today actually seems a bit better than yesterday to me.

    3. it’s our chance to rage at the machine. Every day.

  5. OT: Is anyone else getting the cartoon sci-fi babe banner ads with no text? If so, any idea what they are?

    1. Firefox + Adblock = no banner ads

      1. Same for Chrome. I’m good to go. Plus I like that I can see exactly how many ads I’m *not* having to look at.

    2. Probably tentacle pr0n. Click on one and report back to us.

    3. Those ads tend to be context-based and based on your browsing history. Been visiting hentai websites lately?

      1. I thought Reason WAS a hentai website!

    4. I’m getting the “20,000 Chinese Women Seeking Love” ad.

      One at a time, baby.

      1. But china has a shortage of women due to a one-child policy an gender selective abortion… I think they’re lying to you.

      2. Old joke, but….

        2 bulls are standing on top of a hill and see a bunch of cows grazing below:

        Younger bull: Hey, lets run down there and fuck one of those cows!

        Older bill: No, let’s walk. And fuck then all.

      3. I used to get those Chinese women ads on my work computer. Not anymore though, because AdBlock is awesome. I go to a lot of electronics suppliers’ websites as part of my job, and that’s the only reason I can think that they would be showing up.

  6. “Knowing these three officers?and we’ve talked about it?they’d do it all over again.”

    I have no doubt.

    1. I wonder if the cash was coming out of their pockets (instead of the taxpayers’) if it would make any difference.

  7. I’m still wondering how we got to a place where if someone resists arrest, that means it’s ok to beat the shit out of them. Not just subdue, or taze, or wrestle to the ground until they get the cuffs on–nope, full out kicking the shit out of someone. But man, are we there, because no one (besides us) seems to even be fazed by this any more. The cops have successfully changed the equation from “resist and you’ll get subdued” to “resist and you’ll be lucky to be walking when they’re done”.

    And appallingly even juries seem to find this ok. I guess most people like to be sheep.

    1. Nope. They don’t like being off the leash. Why do *you* want off the leash? You must be a criminal.

      We officially have the gubmint that they deserve. Unfortunately, so do we.

    2. Me too. I always thought we hired, paid and trained police so they would be able to deal with belligerent people without beating the shit out of them if possible. Like I always say, if all police are going to do is go around and brutalize and murder people they don’t like or who give them any problems, we need to go to an all volunteer police force since plenty of people will do that for free.

      1. We were supposed to train police to do that, but the monopoly on force creates utterly perverse incentives and causes wannabe gangsters to join instead and fill the ranks over time. You cannot give a group of people a monopoly and permission on force without them turning into a gang. You have to have some kind of counter or the worst people will realize the value of that monopoly on force and will get in there and use it.

        1. Not every police force is brutal or even this brutal. The problem we have is that most people who are drawn to this sorts of jobs are assholes. There are only a some number of non assholes who want to be a cop. If you have a small police force and make an effort not to hire assholes by having actual standards, you can keep the asshole ratio under control.

          Going on 40 years of “more cops on the streets” has ended that. We only hire assholes because we have long gone through all of the non assholes who wanted the job. In fact, we have hired so many assholes, they have run off the few non assholes that were there. And to top it off we let the assholes form unions to ensure they are never accountable for anything short of outright murder and sometimes not even then.

          Add in a dose of “its a war out there” propaganda so you get assholes who are already poorly trained and have low intelligence and you get a police force that consists of angry, stupid apes who are constantly scared out of their minds because they have convinced themselves it is a war. Needless to say, that creates a pretty sorry picture.

          1. Seems like you have to keep it really small. The town I live in now has 2 or 3 cops, and they all seem like reasonably decent people. Pretty sure they’ve never beaten the crap out of anyone while I’ve lived in the town. I even saw them doing a somewhat significant drug bust once and they were just wearing normal uniforms and acting normal (I still had to go home and listen to “Fuck Tha Police” after that, though).
            But in the town next door where I grew up, which is still a very small town, there are like 15 cops and at least half of them are flaming assholes some of whom have beaten the shit out of people without cause.

            1. That’t the thing Zeb. The small town cops are there *because* they are quiet places. The rage-beasts are actively looking for “action,” and they know that the action is concentrated in cities. Therefore, the ranks are filled with assholes that look forward to doing the things like what happened in this story.

              1. Makes sense. The cops in my town are definitely about keeping things nice and quiet, so they don’t go looking for trouble.

                1. I grew up in a relatively small town in southern MO. I was working a summer job that occasionally hired cops for a few hours a week. There was one guy that I worked with who moved there with his wife from Oklahoma City. He constantly complained about how slow everything was and how he was pressuring his wife to move back to a bigger city where things were “more exciting.”

          2. And it doesn’t help when you have a policy of hiring one sig below mean on the intelligence scale, signed off on by the 2nd Circuit.

        2. Even the concept of “get on the ground” is simple assault. Made popular in “To Catch A Predator” with that smarmy pedophile Chris Hanson the procedure is most often unnecessary except to assert the authority of the Brown Shirt.

          1. I read an article a while back about some college professor who got caught with child porn. There were some issues with his case and the search warrant such and that was what the article was about. What struck me though was a paragraph in the article describing how this college professor went to his door one day and some FBI guy was there and asked him to step outside his house. When he did some asshole tackled him and handcuffed him. THEY WERE SERVING A SEARCH WARRANT.

            The guy was obviously not violent and he came to the door. Yet, they felt the need to brutalize him even though they didn’t have anything but probable cause to believe he might have child porn. That story right there tells you that they go out for the purpose of terrorizing people. It frankly scares the hell out of me. Every one of us is one angry neighbor giving a tip or one wife’s jealous ex boyfriend who joined the FBI from getting the same treatment. If they don’t find anything, well you should be thanking them you are not going to prison.

    3. I think we’ve always been there, but just have video of it now.

    4. Maybe I lack imagination, but I can’t think of any scenario where repeatedly punching someone in the face or kicking them in the ribs is necessary to subdue someone resisting arrest, even assuming that they were putting up a good fight. When someone is beat up like that, the presumption of investigators should be that excessive force was used (yes, I know why that doesn’t happen, Sarcasmic).

      1. You can’t think of that scenario because 1) you are a decent person and 2) you know that they can press charges and have a decent chance of either getting money from you or getting you tossed in the clink for a few months, if not much longer.

        1. “You” as in “not the police.”

  8. Seems to me that if the arrest is unlawful, any use of force during it is also unlawful. The reason why a cop can use force where I can’t is because he has the authority to make lawful arrests. If he is not making a lawful arrest, he doesn’t have that authority and any force he uses beyond pure self defense is no different and just as unlawful as any force I would use on someone.

    1. That would be a cute way to use the fruit of a poisonous tree concept.

    2. You should also be allowed to actively resist an illegitimate use of force by the police, but that’s not going to happen.

      1. Wasn’t there a SC case back in like the 60s or 70s where a Native American shot and killed a deputy, but was found not guilty because the deputy was illegally trying to kill him?

        1. John Bad Elk and it was more like the turn of the century. The 20th Century. Unfortunately later SC decisions have effectively invalidated this case. Fuck you, Scalia, up the ass, with a splintery pine dowel two inches wide covered in Tiber Balm.

  9. OT, kind of. Found in our old friend Lucy’s latest nutpunch article at Vice

    http://www.bakersfieldcaliforn…..ch-warrant

    tl;dr: Based on nothing more than a tip from an informant that there was a felon in possession of a gun at a certain apartment, cops bust down door, guns drawn. Woman and her 5 kids are inside. Of course, she’s not the target. Bonus: Actual target lived next door, heard what was going on, and managed to disappear from sight while they were terrorizing this woman and her kids.

    1. Sending a couple of plain clothes detectives to hang out and wait for the guy to leave the appartment would have been just so hard.

      Beyond that, has the crime rate in Bakersfield been reduced to the point that all the cops have to do is launch SWAT raids anywhere they think there might be a felon with a gun? The guy wasn’t wanted and was not accused of doing anything beyond possessing a gun. How does that get so high on the priority list?

      1. My impression from the few cops I know is this sort of thing bubbles to the top because they like to play cowboy. Catching bicycle thieves or shoplifters isn’t nearly as much fun.

        1. Or car thieves. Have your car stolen and try to get these assholes to do anything but take the report and tell you “sucks to be you” sometime. They are ignorant apes who are too stupid to do actual police work. So they wander around and fuck with people and write traffic tickets while mixing in a SWAT raid now and then.

          1. It’s because they don’t have to. There is absolutely no incentive to work hard to get somebody’s car back. None. But if you like playing soldier, there is a huge incentive to call out the SWAT team.

            As I said above, the incentives for the police, because of their monopoly, are completely fucked and have led to this.

            1. There isn’t. Solving a crime will get you nowhere. Cops are judged by the numbers of arrests they make. Whether those arrests are lawful, necessary or ever result in a conviction is irrelevant.

              If you and I are both cops and I work my ass off and solve three car thefts one month and you sit around and eat doughnuts and arrest one person a day for whatever bullshit charge you can dream up, you are going to be officer of the month and I will get a talking to from my supervisor about how I need to get my arrest numbers up.

              This is how it actually works in big cities. There are people arrested every day on totally made up charges because they happened to be walking down the street in a poor neighborhood and a cop needed to make an arrest that day so his numbers look good. The person if they are lucky spends a night or two in jail only to show up in court and have the DA drop the charges. This happens every day in every large city in America.

              1. “Oh, no. We don’t have quotas.”

                The Big Lie every police department PIO says with the regularity of a bowel movement.

            2. Not only does that happen, the typical middle class person has no idea it is going on. Cops don’t pull that kind of shit in good neighborhoods. They only do it in poor ones. And the media never reports it. So your typical middle class person black or white goes through life thinking that anyone who gets arrested must deserve it since that is how it works in their neighborhood and they don’t see anything on TV that says differently. Whenever you try to explain to them what is actually happening, they won’t believe you.

              This is one of the many but one of the bigger reasons I hate the media in this country so much. They spend their time covering bullshit like Trayvon Martina and Donald Sterling while the cops are conducting a full on terror and then smugly claim how committed they are to tolerance and ending racism.

          2. The fucking with people is what they signed up for. They’re predominantly bullies compensating for something or kids who used to get bullied and now have a chip on their shoulder. The decent people who’d be best at police work don’t want to have anything to do with the job.

          3. “Rip and Run”

      2. Well, what is the fun in that? I mean, the FBI/ATF had all the opportunity in the world to go after David Koresh when he was off property their “compound” was located on. He even invited them to. Nope… gotta show how BADASS we are! Automatic guns, tanks, helicopters, black uniforms! HOOAH! LET’S KICK IN SOME CIVILIAN SKULLS!

        1. AND SHOOT SOME DOGS!

  10. “Knowing these three officers?and we’ve talked about it?they’d do it all over again. ”

    Of course they would. Hell they are still on the job. Suppose they were on Miles’s property acting all suspicious looking like armed drug dealers and he beat the crap out if them until they begged “stop” it’s the police”. He then used the “whoops my bad” defense the cops used. They would throw the book at Miles, and lock him up for a long time.

    This will continue. The only way individuals will have a chance to repel such aggression and violence against their liberties is through the ability of self defense and free markets to especially include defensive services. Only then will hired individuals be held accountable, and face what could be dire consequences if they attempted to use violence against others. They will be checked by such fear of a free and armed populace, as they couldn’t get away with such acts and be shielded by the courts and politicians. These abusive folks could wind up out of a job, or even out of a life.

    1. Suppose they were on Miles’s property acting all suspicious looking like armed drug dealers and he beat the crap out if them until they begged “stop” it’s the police”. He then used the “whoops my bad” defense the cops used. They would throw the book at Miles, and lock him up for a long time.

      He would never make it to court.

      1. He would never make it to court morning.

        FTFY

        1. That’s pretty much what happened a few years ago. A homeowner tried to run some drug dealers off his porch steps. Turned out they were undercover cops and gunned him down. No charges, and I believe the family’s lawsuit went nowhere.

  11. Are you kidding? The guy got off easy. According to the derp from the “teenage girl murdered by police” thread, this guy disobeyed (allegedly), and death was a perfectly appropriate response.

  12. Pittsburgh, like all the other shitty Rust Belt cities, is hugely segregated and highly racist. The hunkies and the pollacks and the dagos really, really hated the nigs for taking their jobs back in the day, and their grandchildren pretty much feel the same way now. As a consequence, the pigs have long done their best to keep the blacks in their part of town. Preemptively beating the shit out of them for no reason is just what’s done.

    Ask some old pollack steelworker in some dumpy Western PA town about any given police brutality case. I did once when I was a kid, and the answer I got was, verbatim, this. “There sure is a lot of controversy over that nigger who was killed. I know my place in white society, they need to learn theirs.”

    1. It’s becoming less segregated, but only because educated white people have decided some of the neighborhoods are actually desirable. The consequence is that the ghetto is slowly moving out to the rotting suburbs where the same problems persist, only a little more spread out.

    2. Again, we’re talking about people who used a helicopter to drop a bomb on their own city, just for the chance to kill a few Black people. 60 homes were destroyed in the fire, but they killed those 5 children dead. And that’s what matters.

      1. That was Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh. But it’s all fucked up.

        1. I know that. I was working within Warty’s “Rust Belt” comment. But, as I understand it Phily was never as segregated as Pittsburgh. Is that true in your experience?

          1. Philly’s not part of the Rust Belt. It would be like comparing NYC to Buffalo.

    3. Pittsburgh, like all the other shitty Rust Belt cities, is hugely segregated and highly racist.

      Aw, now I feel homesick for Buffalo…

  13. Um, we have more pressing issues to worry about, like somebody somewhere might have said something racist.

    1. Don’t you know that someone famous saying something racist is 100x worse than the cops actually acting on their racism and beating the shit out of an innocent kid? Because people can howl about Sterling to show their friends how wonderful they are, but caring about this kid won’t get them shit in their social circles, so why would they care?

      1. Yep. It’s all posturing.

      2. And howling about STerling is easy. Taking on the cops, a bit harder.

        1. Yeah, I wonder how a guy like Balko doesn’t get 4 speeding tickets a week.

          1. Trying not to write about the cops in his own town?

  14. “In 2012 a jury rejected Miles’ claim that police maliciously prosecuted him.”

    So we’re officially in Judge Dredd territory?

    1. Didn’t Judge Dredd at least occasionally get the right guy? Is there a Judge Retard comic?

      1. Judge Dredd always got the right guy.

  15. “Knowing these three officers?and we’ve talked about it?they’d do it all over again. They did nothing wrong. They have nothing to be ashamed of,”

    Of course they’d do it again. These are jackbooted thugs who act with near impunity and have been instilled with a pseudo-morality so even their own conscience will absolve them of their crimes.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.