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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Police in Miles case make their final pitch to jurors

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 1:02 PM

Jordan Miles' version of his January 2010 altercation with three Pittsburgh police officers is based on lies, defense attorneys told jurors Thursday morning during closing arguments. And while they portrayed Miles as "150 pounds of dynamite" at the outset of the trial, a defense attorney today likened him to "the little boy who cried wolf."

Miles' federal lawsuit against the three officers involved -- Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing -- has gone on for two weeks. Throughout, Miles has said the officers jumped out of their unmarked police car, failed to identify themselves as police, demanded guns, money and drugs and beat him when he tried to flee and choked him while handcuffed. He says he thought the three men were going to rob him. Officers, meanwhile, say they did identify himself, that Miles was sneaking around a neighbor's house, and that he acted like he had a gun in his pock, which later turned out to be a bottle of pop.

This morning, they got their final chance to make that claim to jurors. So far, two of the three defense attorneys have spoken. Ewing's attorney, Robert Leight, will deliver his closing statements when court resumes this afternoon. That will be followed with a final argument by Miles' attorney, J. Kerrington Lewis.

The judge spent a good chunk of the morning instructing jurors on the law. They should begin deliberating this afternoon and continue tomorrow.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Jim Wymard told jurors that common sense backed up the officers' version of events. The officers followed their training, he said, and they had suspicion to stop Miles on Jan. 12, 2010.

"They see him hiding, concealing himself," Wymard said. "They can't simply drive by and leave it alone. It's their duty."

Wymard said the officers' version of events is supported by the evidence. Sisak says he tackled Miles through the hedges on a neighboring property. That home's owner, Patrica Colman and her son testified that the next morning the hedges were broken down and there were braids hanging on the branches. Doctors also removed a stick from Miles' gums later that night. Miles says, hwever, he never went through hedges.'

"[Miles'] version was to avoid those hedges because then it had to be the officers who pulled his hair out, and not the hedge" Wymard said. "But clearly Jordan Miles went through the hedges even though he says he didn't."

Wymard finished his statement by calling the three officers "heroes, doing the work that no one else wants in the city's toughest zone."

Defense attorney Bryan Campbell also took shots at Miles. Miles' lawyers have attempted to show he was an honor student who suffered cognitive damage after the beating. Testimony showed Miles' academic career at CAPA High School was rough the first two years, but that for most of his junior and senior year, he was an honor student with GPAs. But Campbell took shots at that record in his closing.

"He says he was an honor student," Campbell said. "He was an honor student at CAPA."

Campbell said that while Miles a "gift from God" when it came to music, Miles' performance in academic classes was only average. "Does he really want to go to college?" Campbell asked, referring to the fact that Miles had dropped out.

Campbell wrapped up his remarks by suggesting Miles had come under tremendous public pressure since the case took off. Campbell argued that after being arrested, Miles had made up a story "that he never thought would go beyond his mother and his grandmother. He never thought it would be investigated by the FBI, the police and the Citizens Police Review Board."

"He's a lot like the little boy who cried wolf."

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