Police get paid vacations and overtime for gangland-style beating of honors student

On the evening in January 12, 2010, Jordan Miles was walking home to his family’s home in Pittsburgh. The 18-year-old studied music at the Creative and Performing Arts High School. He was an honors student and had no criminal record. As Miles was walking, three police officers dressed in plainclothes exited from an unmarked car. What happened next is disputed, but one thing is for sure: Miles ended up in the hospital.

If you believe the version of the story told by the police, the three officers — Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak — had received a complaint earlier in the evening from resident  Monica Wooding that Miles had been loitering on her property. The officers spotted Miles “sneaking around”  and noticed that he had an object in his pocket that could have been a weapon. They approached Miles, identified themselves as police officers, and asked him to take his hand out of his pocket. Miles took off, but tripped after he slipped on some ice. They tried to arrest him, but he resisted them violently and they had to use force to subdue him. After arresting Miles, they searched him and realized that the object they thought was a weapon was actually a Mountain Dew bottle.

There are a number of problems with this story. Firstly, Monica Wooding never complained to the police that Miles had been loitering on her property. That was a complete lie. In fact, she testified in court that Miles and her son have been friends for years.

The officers’ claim about the Mountain Dew bottle was problematic too, because the officers never filed it as evidence. It also never existed, according to Miles.

The officers also never identified themselves, according to Miles. They just asked him questions like “Where’s your gun, money and drugs?” — questions that would have suggested that they might have been robbers. Even if the officers did identify themselves as police, it’s hard to fault anyone for running from a group of strangers in the middle of the night. Remember, the police weren’t wearing uniforms and they were driving an unmarked car.

According to Miles, the officers beat, kicked, kneed, and choked him, repeatedly shoved his face into the ground, and ripped hair from his scalp. After he was in handcuffs, the officers continued pushing his face into the ground, causing his gums to be impaled by a piece of wood. Miles, thinking he was going to die, began praying. An officer told him to “shut up” then began choking him and slammed his head into the snow. Miles continued praying and another officer said “Didn’t he tell you to shut up?” and then choked Miles again and slammed his head back in the snow. After the officers had left Miles in the snow for a “protracted period of time,” he tried lift his head off the ground only to be hit in the face with an unknown object by one of the officers.

Before the beating, Miles looked like this:

After the beating, he looked like this:

When a police wagon showed up to pick up Miles, the officers who arrested him attempted to have him locked up in jail. Luckily, jail officials sent him to the a hospital where he received treatment for injuries consistent with the allegations he made against the police officers.

Once Miles was released from the hospital, he was charged with “loitering,” “resisting arrest,” and — you guessed it! — “aggravated assault.” However, due to of all the problems with the police’s side of the story, Judge Oscar Petite Jr. concluded several months later that he was “left with no other alternative but to dismiss all charges against Jordan Miles.”

In February, the three officers were put on “paid leave” (i.e., they were given paid vacations at taxpayer expense). While on this so-called “leave,” the officers received not just their regular salaries, but overtime pay for hours that they supposedly would have worked if they had not been put on leave.

Local prosecutors began looking into the case, but stopped when the FBI announced that it was conducting its own investigation. In May of this year, the Justice Department finally announced the oh-so-shocking decision: no charges will be filed against the officers. As the DOJ explained in its press release,

The U.S. Attorney’s Office , the Civil Rights Division and the FBI, working together, conducted an exhaustive review of the incident, which included interviews of more than 40 witnesses, some on multiple occasions, visits to the scene and careful review of all   police reports, medical records, photographs, laboratory reports, cell phone records and other documentation related to the incident.   After thorough review of all of the evidence, experienced federal officials concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the applicable federal criminal civil rights statutes.

Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right.    Proving “willfulness” is a heavy burden, and means that it must be proven that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.   To act “willfully,” for purposes of the federal statute, means to act with a bad purpose to disobey or disregard the law. Neither negligence, accident, mistake, fear nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish such a criminal violation. After a lengthy, independent and thorough review consuming hundreds of hours of agent and prosecutor time, federal officials determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove a federal civil rights violation, beyond a reasonable doubt, against any of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers.

If we are to believe the language of this press release, then the officers who attacked Miles can’t legally be prosecuted unless there’s a video of them explicitly planning to violate his civil rights and listing off the particular federal statutes that they planned to break. If the DOJ’s lawyers consider the fact that the officers completely fabricated their entire reason for stopping Miles and the fact that Miles ended up in the hospital with severe injuries to be “insufficient evidence” that the officers “willfully” violated his civil rights, then it’s not clear what else they could mean. Apparently the DOJ believes that officers who stop men for no reason, brutally beat them with potentially deadly levels of force, and then use perjured testimony to justify their crimes have, at worst, made a “mistake” or used “bad judgment.”

It took more than a year for this outrageous decision to be reached and for that entire period of time, the three thugs who assaulted Miles were sitting on their asses, soaking up thousands of dollars from the taxpayers of Pittsburgh. The day after the decision not to press charges was announced, all three of the men were reinstated as police officers without any sort of punishment whatsoever. When the Police Chief announced that the officers would be reinstated, he shamelessly commented that he hoped the beating would teach young people not to run from the police. “We aren’t the enemy out there,” he said with a straight face.

Compare the treatment the officers received from the criminal justice system to the treatment Miles received. He was charged with several crimes almost immediately after the incident based solely on the testimony from the officers who put him in the hospital. Whether Miles broke the law “willfully” in the sense described by the DOJ was probably never even considered.

This is not an isolated incident. Police regularly get special treatment from the criminal justice system. Ian Birk, a Seattle police officers who shot a man in the back and murdered him for no reason, escaped prosecution. As with the officers who beat Miles, prosecutors claimed that they couldn’t file charges because they were unable to prove that Birk intentionally broke the law. Deputy Matt Paul, an officer who paralyzed an innocent man for life by shoving him headfirst into a wall, dodged prosecution too. His nearly fatal assault “was just a freak accident,” according to one prosecutor. And the SWAT officers who murdered Todd Blair in his own home during a paramilitary drug raid were never criminally charged either. The shooting was deemed “justified.” Those are just a sample of a long list of examples.

Even officers who are prosecuted for their crimes are not necessarily punished. Data from the 2010 report from the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (see graphs below) suggest that on average police who are prosecuted are convicted at a lower rate than the average person who is prosecuted. Officers who are convicted tend to receive lighter sentences.

As long as police officers continue to be given special treatment and shielded from the consequences of their actions, we can be assured that more police brutality incidents like the attack on Miles will occur.

To keep up to date on this story, check out the Justice for Jordan Miles campaign website.

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  • Sheri

    This is an outrage and I am appalled at the FBI and the Civil Rights Division of the US Attorney’s office. I cannot believe that they would find that there is insufficient evidence to charge these psychopaths with a crime. The pictures alone are telling enough. What did the cops look like after the beating? I bet there was not a scratch on them. The beating was willfull. Are we expected to believe that this beating was “accidental”? It’s either willful or accidental, and I’m not buying for one second that it was accidental.

  • natedog

    fucking disgusting. cops are such pussies.

  • Guy Fawkes

    “Police Chief announced that the officers would be reinstated, he shamelessly commented that he hoped the beating would teach young people not to run from the police. “We aren’t the enemy out there,” he said with a straight face.”

    After looking at Jordan Miles face I’d want to run from the cops; who wants to be on the receiving end of that?

  • Larry in Va

    This is why I have established tidewatercopwatch.blogspot.com

    I believe we can begin a non violent revolution to destroy what has become a vicious mob like organization that has taken hold in every town,city,state and county in the U.S.A

    By filming and then publicizing these types of actions and after effects people will slowly begin to demand changes and disbanding of the swat teams. Overhaul of the police agencies that are supposed to serve THEM and increased and more aggressive prosecution of corrupt officers and brass.

    Folks we have to get out there with our cameras and film this stuff…..sitting at home opining isnt working….and there arent enough of us filming yet to really put any fear into corrupt officers. Where events like this happen there should be multiple cameras with multiple shots all streaming the film to offsite locations to prevent criminals in uniform from confiscating your equipment only to destroy the evidence.

    THe revolutionary war and every other major change required bullets to be fired……today the camera is mightier than the sword…public sentiment can force retire or cause terminations of officers and there supervisors within days…..we NEED to make some major examples and then wave them in the face of officers who believe they are above it or somehow protected…….

    GET OUT THOSE CAMCORDERS……YOU DONT HAVE TO BE A FILM MAJOR OR PRO to put these criminals on the run……….submit those vidoes to your local newspaper AND broadcast TV station….let both outlets know youve sent the film to both so no one tries to cover it up……

  • Ridiculousness

    Remember, justice denied is revenge incurred. There is no escaping the consequences of your actions. And every time someone gets away with an injustice, it heaps another condemnation atop the system, which is already teetering under its own corruption as everyone simultaneously becomes SICK with what they see and hear. And, as each one of these lies fall apart, it becomes just a little harder to build up a new one, and it’s not the same “They said it so it must be true” audience they’re used to anymore. People are really asking questions, and they’re not just accepting the old “you just hate cops” argument, because they’re starting to realize that they might just be the next one to land in the hospital thanks to thugs who are virtually immune to prosecution. And as the confidence fails, so does the whole damn house of cards, because realistically it’s never been anything but a confidence game to begin with.

    Perhaps those in charge of wrecking the world really believe their own “no consequence” propaganda, but that’s never how things play out. And simply believing will not protect you.

  • BigBob

    We need to stop asking the system to take care of its animals.
    Those rabid dogs called “cops” [I do not call them “pigs” because in the pecking order of animals, cops are the lowest.] need to be on their leashes again.
    To ask their handlers [police chief, mayor, et. al.] is like asking another rabid dog to control another.
    So…who should contain these wild scumbags?

    Tell us!

  • Marty

    How about *requiring* all police, by law, to record *all* detentions of suspects? Many police cars have forward-facing cameras now. When a detention is attempted, the officers should be *required by law* to ensure the detention is filmed.

    Cameras could also be required by law to be mounted on helmets and/or hats, as well, and could be required to be turned on whenever an officer leaves the patrol care for any reason – recordings can be made to “loop” every certain number of hours. When a suspect is booked, the officers would be required to submit the stored videos (with sound) to the booking desk, to be maintained as evidence.

    Why not? Would the police have anything to hide?

    The cost would be minimal, and perhaps the system would even pay for itself. Imagine the reduction in the number of bookings that such a system may possibly result in, and the subsequent savings to taxpayers? And the benefits to the police department and the public, proving that the police always act lawfully?

    Think about it!

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  • NYJohn

    All cops should be tested for steroids and other drugs after being involved in any “altercation” with a suspect. There also needs to be a citizen presence from the very start of any internal investigation because as we are all too often reminded,, the cops just can’t be trusted to tell the truth.

  • Will

    I know im gonna get shit for saying this, but this situation is why we have a second amendment.

  • srk33

    Now when it’s proven that the officers have committed no crime and the arrest was lawful, maybe it’s time for the city to go back and actually charge Miles for resisting it. Plus charge him for all the sums spent on this “investigation”.

    As for the intentions of filming the police, that’s why more and more states are now considering outlawing it. “Arrest those who record the police” appears to be official policy, and it’s backed by the courts”. (http://gizmodo.com/5553765/are-cameras-the-new-guns). Christopher Drew who recently wanted to test the system and filmed himself being arrested for petty misdemeanor, will most likely spend next several years (hopefully all 15) in jail – just for that filming. Good lesson for everyone. Feel free to join him.

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  • Randall

    Oath Keepers to Rally in Tucson on Memorial Day Over Death of Young Marine Veteran. This is it people. Stop talking and start acting

    Those of us who are trained know and understand that the only way your family is going to be safe from a criminal home invasion is if you step up and defend them, but if you do that, if you dare to arm yourself and defend your family against home invasion, if it turns out to be the police conducting a dynamic SWAT raid, you will be at risk of being shot on sight every time. You will die for simply defending your family.

  • Randall

    So……get everyone you know to go to Tucson. This is a major event. Military people, veterans and concerned citizens from all over will be there. And above all join and donate to Oath Keepers

  • Andy

    Looks like he was guilty of being an successful young black guy. Cops seem to hate that for some reason.

  • f the po-po

    I fucking hate cops. I fucking hate our laws. I fucking hate our judges. I fucking hate our politicians. Everything in America is so fucked up. The higher ups expect people to sit back and get fucked in the ass by their thug squad, aka the police. Fucking pricks

  • tori

    FUCK THE POLICE!!! that’s all I have to say.

  • There will be a protest outside Allegheny County Courthouse for Justice for Jordan Miles.

    If you are in Pittsburgh this Saturday please come by and see us.

    Also, if you have no business in Pittsburgh… don’t come here.

    Here’s the details:

    Sat, May 28, 1PM – 3PM
    Allegheny County Courthouse,
    436 Grant Street
    Pittsburgh, PA


    bsfish27@aol.com or 412-628-5849


  • Trees

    Nothing will change unless every citizen stands upon the 2nd amendment.

  • Funny, and people are worried about street gangs. At least they can usually be brought to justice when they commit crimes. And at least their weapons are not paid for with our tax dollars. I dont trust the police. I could care a less what that Cheif is talking about. As a matter of fact, him making that statement after all of this incident make me trust them even less than I already dont. F**k a PIG!

  • williamgoodnight

    the officers were and are under the influence of satan why else would they be so brutal and tell him to shut up when he began to pray, the local community need to demand the police are sacked so they do not do this again just for starters. these people are evil.

  • People how much is enough.

  • Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I think that you can do with some p.c. to power the message home a bit, however instead of that, that is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

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