PITTSBURGH (AP) — Three white officers accused in a federal civil rights lawsuit of beating a black art student falsely arrested him but didn’t use excessive force, a jury found Monday, awarding him $119,000 in damages.
The all-white jury of four men and four women reached a split verdict in 22-year-old Jordan Miles’ lawsuit against officers David Sisak, Michael Saldutte and Richard Ewing. They found the officers liable for falsely arresting Miles but found them not liable for using excessive force to beat him.
The jurors awarded Miles $101,000 in compensatory damages and $6,000 from each officer for punitive damages for acting “maliciously and wantonly.”
Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, said he was gratified but confused by the verdict because he didn’t understand how the jurors came to a decision on the damages or concluded that the officers were wrong to arrest Jordan but not wrong to beat him. In closing arguments, Sansone didn’t ask for a specific amount in damages but hinted to the jury that millions of dollars may be appropriate.
“The only thing he wanted to hear was that these officers did the wrong thing,” Sansone said after the verdict.
Miles had claimed the officers confronted him in January 2010 while he was walking to his grandmother’s house to spend the night. He says they assumed he was a drug dealer because of his race and dreadlocks and beat him. At the time, he was an 18-year-old senior at Pittsburgh’s performing arts high school and had no history of police trouble.
The officers say they got rough with Miles because he fought with them while they mistakenly thought he had a gun.
The verdict stemmed from a retrial granted after another jury two years ago rejected Miles’ civil rights claims that police maliciously prosecuted him for assault, resisting arrest and other crimes when he ran from and fought with police on Jan. 12, 2010. The criminal charges were dismissed weeks after Miles’ arrest by a city magistrate who said he didn’t believe the police version of events.
But the first federal court jury in August 2012 couldn’t decide whether Miles had been wrongfully arrested or whether police used excessive force in the process, leading to a retrial on those civil rights claims.
Miles contends he was talking on his cellphone to his girlfriend while walking a block to his grandmother’s house, where he routinely spent the night, when the plainclothes officers rolled up in an unmarked car asking for money, drugs and a gun without identifying themselves. His lawyers contend that practice — which police denied using — is commonly known as a “jump out” and used to put suspected drug dealers on the defensive.
The officers maintain they flashed their badges and yelled “Police!” and stopped Miles only because he appeared to be lurking near a neighbor’s home. They claim Miles panicked and ran after being asked why he was “sneaking around” — and the confrontation escalated when Miles purportedly elbowed Saldutte in the head, then kicked Sisak in the knee, before officers mistook a “bulge” in Miles’ coat pocket for a gun.
The officers contend they discovered the bulge was from a bottle of Mountain Dew. Miles denies carrying the bottle; officers say they later threw it away.
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(Photo Source: AP)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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