from Final Call
PITTSBURGH - Over eight months later no officer has been held accountable for the attack on Jordan Trent Miles, who is still suffering from the physical and psychological pain allegedly caused by three White officers smashing his face into an unrecognizable state, according to supporters, family and the reported victim.
“Initially I thought I was being robbed because they (officers) jumped out of an unmarked car in plain clothes. Next thing I know I was being handcuffed, kicked, beat, and had my face bloodied,” Mr. Miles, who is Black, told The Final Call.
On Aug. 30, a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and three Pittsburgh police officers was filed by the Miles family. According to their attorney, the suit seeks compensation for damages and to have officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing removed from the police force.
“I want these officers to lose their jobs. I want them taken off of the streets because if this can happen to me—an honor student with no prior criminal record—this can happen to anyone else. These types of officers should not be free on the streets of Pittsburgh,” said Mr. Miles, 18.
On Jan. 12, 2010, at approximately 11 p.m., Mr. Miles said he was headed to his grandmother's home around the corner from his mother's home when he was suddenly ambushed by White plainclothes police officers.
According to Mr. Miles, all three men jumped out of the car without identifying themselves and shouted “Where's the gun, where's the money, where's the drugs?” According to the teenager, he ran because he thought he was about to be robbed.
“I took off running and slipped on the icy ground. That was the last time I was on my feet. I never fought back because I thought I was going to be killed. At this point I still didn't know these were officers but they started beating me while smashing my face into the snow. One of the hits came from a metal object and that's when blood gushed from my head into the snow,” said Mr. Miles, who was a senior high school honor roll student at that time.
Mr. Miles says he was eventually handcuffed, arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault, loitering and prowling at nighttime, escape and resisting arrest. District Judge Oscar Petite dismissed the charges March 4.
“While on the ground I was saying the Lord's prayer silently and they would say ‘shut up' and beat me more. I thought I was going to be abducted but when a marked cop car came on the scene that's when I found out these were undercover cops,” he said.
Mr. Miles was taken into the county jail, where he spent nearly 24 hours before finally being released to his worried mother. The police took him to the hospital—not for treatment—but to have his urine tested for drugs, he said.
“I was bleeding unceasingly and they didn't treat me at all. I have never used drugs but they tested me for being under the influence,” said Mr. Miles.
“When I called over to my mother's home to see if Jordan had made it safely she told me he had not. We got worried and my mother eventually called around and found out Jordan had been arrested,” Terez Miles, his mother, told The Final Call.
When her son was finally released from jail she did not even recognize him because of his distorted face caused by the beatings.
“This person started walking towards me and I said to myself this person looks like the elephant man. Then he came closer to me and said ‘Mama.' I went completely hysterical. I started shouting. I couldn't believe this was my son,” said Ms. Miles.
“I could tell she didn't know who I was but when she recognized my voice tears just swelled up in her eyes. She started yelling, ‘Look at what they did to my baby,' ” said Mr. Miles, who also had his dreadlocks ripped from his scalp leaving patches in his head.
Ms. Miles immediately took action by stopping at the nearest store to purchase a camera to get shots of her son before taking him to the emergency room. Those photos circulated on the internet and caused a national stir.
According to the family, the police crafted a completely dishonest criminal complaint, designed to explain Mr. Miles' gruesome injuries and justify their own corrupt actions.
Community support helps
The city of Pittsburgh put the officers on paid leave within weeks of investigating Mr. Miles' charges of brutality. But what is seen as inaction against the White officers has sparked cries of racism by community activists who have continued to pressure the Justice Department to bring charges against them.
A letter writing campaign to the D.A.'s office and several protests have been organized by the Alliance for Police Accountability. Another strongly attended march and rally was held on Sept. 18 in the Homewood area.
“Leadership is put above us—not to forward our initiatives or agendas—but to pacify us when things like this happen. We will not accept this beating. We, the Nation of Islam, will not allow any intimidation to take place with the Miles family,” said Jasiri X, the local student minister, at the rally.
“I can't stop thinking about what happened to Jordan. The type of injustice that was dealt to my brother is anti-God and inhuman,” said Kieland Miles, 16-year-old sister of the victim.
Mr. Miles did graduate from high school while attending multiple counseling sessions and having to wear a hat to cover his patches. He enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh this fall but was unable to cope with being away from home and is back with his mother. He plans to enroll in a school closer to home but still thinks about that incident.
“I took a lot of pride in my dreadlocks. I never wanted to get them cut. I still think about what happened to me. For the longest time I didn't want to go outside especially at night. I still have physical pain,” said Mr. Miles, who wants to major in business administration.
“I think he needs more counseling because I believe this has impacted him more than he says. The community report has helped us tremendously and we appreciate them bringing attention to this. We want these three officers in prison,” said Ms. Miles.