Two years and four months after three undercover Pittsburgh police officers injured then 18 year old Jordan Miles while trying to arrest him, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced today that he is not filing charges against the officers.
Zappala said it was “not a prosecutable case.”
On January 11, 2010, Miles, an honor student at the Pittsburgh School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), was walking from his home to his grandmother’s house in Homewood. The officers claimed that Miles was prowling around a house and appeared to be carrying a gun and then fled. Later, officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak said that Miles was carrying a soda bottle in his pocket that appeared to be a gun.
While being subdued by the three officers, Miles suffered facial and head injuries and had some hair torn from his scalp.
In making his decision, District Attorney Zappala said that he agreed with the federal government. Last May the Department of Justice announced that it would not pursue criminal charges against Saldutte, Sisak and Ewing. The statement said that after an exhaustive review including interviews with more than 40 people, “there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that Jordan Miles’ civil rights were violated.
Shortly after the incident Zappala filed charges against Miles, including aggravated assault and resisting arrest. Miles denied that he was carrying a soda bottle that night and at his preliminary hearing in February 2010, not bottle was introduced as evidence. Miles' attorney J. Kerrington Lewis said that's because there never was a bottle. Following contradictory testimony from Saldutte and a neighborhood resident, District Judge Oscar Petite, Jr. dismissed the charges against Miles.
“In my mind, District Attorney Zappala could not very well carry out an investigation in a criminal case against the police officers because he represented them as victims in his prosecution against Jordan,” said Lewis.
Miles' attorney said Zappala had a conflict of interest and should have turned over the investigation to the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
“When you work so closely with these policemen as a D.A., you’re prosecuting cases, it’s almost a ‘good old boys’ network between D.A.’s and cops,” said Lewis. “It’s good to give it to an independent prosecutor.”
A community group, The Alliance for Police Accountability, and Miles’ family had been urging Zappala to file charges against the three officers. Alliance spokesman Peter Shell says they are now calling for the state Attorney General to take the case and for Zappala to resign.
While Sisak, Saldutte and Ewing are not facing criminal charges, Lewis says Miles’ federal lawsuit against the officers for allegedly violating his civil rights goes to trial in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh July 16.