PITTSBURGH — A young black man is appealing a federal verdict that said that three white Pittsburgh police officers wrongly arrested him in 2010 but did not use excessive force, and also wants authorities to reopen their investigation, citing alleged racial bias by police.
The attorney for Jordan Miles said Tuesday that one of the officers said his only regret was he didn't kill the then-high school student, and used a racial slur in doing do.
Attorney Joel Sansone claimed the officer, David Sisak, made the remarks to a bartender while patrolling the South Side, an area known for its night life, a couple of weeks before Miles' civil rights lawsuit went to trial in March 2014.
Sisak, reached on his cellphone, told The Associated Press: "I don't work over there and I've never walked a beat." Mayoral spokesman Timothy McNulty also said an investigator hired by the city looked into the claims by the bartender and did not find them credible.
The judge didn't admit the bartender comments into evidence because they were deemed unfairly prejudicial to the officers, Sansone said.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton said he would not reopen the investigation, saying the case was "exhaustively investigated."
"The arrest of Jordan Miles was a troubling and divisive event for our entire community," he said. "Now we must continue to work toward greater trust and cooperation between community and police."
The jurors in Miles' lawsuit against the city awarded him more than $100,000 in damages for being wrongfully arrested. But they never discussed their verdict, leaving unclear how they viewed the conflicting accounts of Miles' arrest.
Miles, who was 18 at the time, said he was talking on his cellphone while walking to his grandmother's home about 11 p.m. when the plainclothes officers approached in an unmarked car asking for money, drugs and a gun without identifying themselves. His lawyers argued that tactic is used to catch suspected drug dealers off-guard and that Miles was targeted simply because he was a young black man in a high-crime neighborhood.
The officers denied rushing up to Miles. They said they clearly identified themselves and that they stopped him only because he appeared to be lurking near a neighbor's home. They claim Miles panicked, ran and then fought with them before officers mistook a "bulge" in his coat pocket for a gun.
The officers said they kneed and punched Miles to subdue him before determining the bulge was a bottle of Mountain Dew. Miles denied even carrying the bottle; his attorney said it was a ruse to justify a beating.
The officers said they threw away the bottle because it wasn't evidence they needed to support the prowling, assault and resisting arrest charges they filed against him.
Those charges were dismissed when a city magistrate found the police version of events was not credible.
Miles' attorney said the comments allegedly made to the bartender were not previously known to federal investigators, who need "to determine whether or not racism was the order of the day in the beating of Jordan Miles."