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.
Like BlackAmericaWeb.com on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.
(Photo Source: AP)
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30