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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Even a verdict in civil case doesn't necessarily mean the end of the line for Miles case

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Jurors in the Jordan Miles civil case reported Tuesday afternoon that they are having "difficulty in reaching a unanimous verdict," according to federal judge Gary Lancaster. 

The judge gave the jurors further instructions to continue deliberating and told jurors, "each of you should decide for yourself" but they should "be open to other positions."

The jury was still deliberating at 3 p.m. Tuesday and many believe a verdict either way will end the two-and-a-half year old Miles saga. If the jury comes back deadlocked, a second trial would be held.

Civil proceedings aside, however, the Miles case still has one more venue to be heard – The Citizens Police Review Board. Miles filed a complaint with the board in the days following the Jan. 12, 2010, incident when he says he was jumped and beaten by officers David Sisak, Richard Ewing and Michael Saldutte.

That complaint, says Beth Pittinger, CPRB executive director, is still pending. Pittinger spoke to City Paper outside of Lancaster's courtroom Tuesday afternoon about the complaint.

At the board's last meeting Pittinger says CPRB members agreed to wait until after the pending civil case before determining whether full hearing should be held. The board will take that matter up at their next meeting in September.

A CPRB hearing is different than the federal civil trial held the past three weeks. For example, in the civil case, it was ruled that jurors could not hear or consider testimony about the officers' past history including discipline or prior complaints. In a CPRB hearing, however, Pittinger says that information is very much admissible and could be considered.

And there could be some significant testimony in that regard, according to court filings.

 According to a January 2012 CP story:

Only McCauley's report summarizes the contents of a deposition given by Commander Rashall Brackney. According to McCauley's summary, Brackney asserted all three officers "had a history of lying and taking action when not rising to [the] level of reasonable suspicion."

Brackney testified, according to McCauley's report, that officer Ewing was "untruthful regarding [a] police pursuit involving an accident with vehicle damage." In addition, McCauley writes, Brackney "mandated PO Sisak and PO Ewing be closely monitored and supervised."

"The striking difference between the two [opinions] is Miles' expert's inclusion of the facts from the Rashall Brackney interview," says David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who specializes in police issues. "That's potentially very significant."

When asked if Brackney could testify in a CPRB proceeding, Pittinger said the board had subpoena power to compel any police officer to testify. In fact, the three officers would also likely be subpoenaed, although in the past some police officers haven't always answered questions when appearing before the board, but they must appear.

It's unclear how much longer the jury will deliberate today or how much longer the judge will require them to deliberate without reaching a verdict. It is clear though, Lancaster is hopeful that this case reaches a conclusion, telling the jury, "we try cases to dispense with them."

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