Ex-Cop Expert Witness Says Unarmed Black Teen Who Had Committed No Crime Was “Illogical” To Run Away From the Three Cops Who Nearly Beat Him to Death

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Lucy Steigerwald has an update on the beating of Jordan Miles, a case I wrote about in January. Miles was beaten nearly to death by three Pittsburgh police officers who say they mistook a bottle of Mountain Dew in Miles’ pocket for a gun. (The Mountain Dew bottle disappeared after the beating.) The cops claimed they confronted Miles because a neighbor had complained that the music student with no criminal record was skulking about her property. That neighbor denies ever making such a complaint. The cops also say Miles should have known they were cops, and say he’s responsible for his own beating for fleeing them. Miles is suing.

Which brings us to the update:

In response to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Jordan Miles over a beating he suffered from Pittsburgh Police in January 2010, a “law enforcement expert” has declared that the cops’ version of events is true. The aforementioned expert was hired by the city to fight the lawsuit from Miles, so it’s not exactly surprising that he came to some familiar conclusions about why the cops just had to do what they did.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The officers have consistently said that they identified themselves as such and displayed badges, wrote Joseph J. Stine, who ran Philadelphia’s Police Training Bureau and served as chief for New Britain Township, in a report filed in federal court. And Mr. Stine suggested that Mr. Miles couldn’t have logically reached the conclusion that the men were common thugs.

“It is my opinion that in order for Jordan Miles not to have known that the males who attempted to stop him and whom he eventually struggled with were police officers, he would have had to believe that three adult white males had come into [a] predominantly Afro-American community in order to rob him,” Mr. Stine wrote, despite little precedent for such an attack. “He would have to have not heard any of the constant repetition of ‘Police. Stop. Police.'”

Steigerwald comments:

Is there really no precedent at all for several white guys to visit an African-American neighborhood and want to make trouble? There’s certainly precedent for people impersonating police officers in order to commit crimes. Maybe the men did yell police and even flash badges, but so what? It was 11 p.m. in one of Pittsburgh’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods. And if the men grabbed at Miles while identifying themselves (or not), a logical fight or flight instinct still would have kicked in. Miles also said that the cops yelled “Where’s the money? Where’s the gun? Where’s the drugs?” at him, which made him believe he was being robbed, then abducted, when the men initially put handcuffs on him.

Stine says that it wasn’t “logical” for Miles to have thought that the officers were criminals, yet cops are often forgiven for reacting in the heat of the moment to an apparent threat, be it a human being with a three-inch carving knife or a dog which maybe bares its teeth at a stranger in its home. So why is then-highschool senior Miles not to be forgiven for his nervousness when adult, theoretically highly-trained cops are so often forgiven for theirs?

You could also argue that even if Miles did know they were cops, he was justified to run. For example, he might have recognized that he was a black teenager walking alone at night, he may have heard enough stories about cops who sometimes tend to assume the worst in those sorts of circumstances, and he may have consequently feared that something bad would go down if he stuck around. Something like—just hypothetically speaking—the cops mistaking an innocuous bulge in his coat for a gun, beating him to a bloody pulp, then arresting him for resisting them.

Two of the three cops have been the subject of prior excessive force complaints and lawsuits. Yet thanks to police union clout, all three were not only suspended with pay, they were also paid for the overtime they might have worked had they not been suspended. All three are now back on the force. The union also deemed the three cops “heroes” for beating the hell out of an unarmed, 150-pound viola player. When a local prankster put out a hoax press release mocking the union’s absurd celebration of Jordan Miles’ beating, the Pittsburgh Police Department launched a full-on raid of the video store where they thought the fake release was created.

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45 Responses to “Ex-Cop Expert Witness Says Unarmed Black Teen Who Had Committed No Crime Was “Illogical” To Run Away From the Three Cops Who Nearly Beat Him to Death”

  1. #1 |  Ken | 


    Damn it. I’m numb with rage and hate.

  2. #2 |  nigmalg | 

    They raided the coffee shop on the basis that someone access their opened wireless router??

    They raided the coffee shop “because of multiple felonies” due to a satirical FOP press release?

    Some private organizations are more equal than others, civil suits be damned.

  3. #3 |  Joshua | 

    Wait a minute here. It wasn’t rational for him to run away? They nearly beat him to death! Are they seriously arguing that it wasn’t rational for him to run because they might not have done what they actually did?

  4. #4 |  The Rabbi's rabbit | 

    When is it ok to start calling for riots?

  5. #5 |  picachu | 

    I sent the last story on here like this to amnesty international as well as human rights watch. Idk if that’s being naive or what but if enough of us do that it may get their attention.

  6. #6 |  Nathan A | 

    #5 – No need to call, they will happen when enough people realize that these thugs will never be held accountable for even the most egregious offenses.

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Lets assume all facts in favor of the police, and accept at face value the opinion of their “expert”. It still fails to explain why in heavens name they were justified in beating this kid almost to death. 6 cops vs a highschool viola player. I think that the picture speaks for itself. The only way that picture would be justified is if there was some “fight to the death” between cop and perp, and cop was seriously injured. This is not reasonable force. What I see is a bunch of fucking animals.

  8. #8 |  Ian MacLeod | 

    This is happening now so often, and as much to kids like this as to adults, and for no reason save the cops felt like, it’s sickening. They’re never held accountable, either, but shit! To call these THUGS “heroes”…! It’s eventually going to get to the point where people will stop complaining officially and they’ll just start turning up dead someplace. If real robbers are going to imitate cops and people can’t tell the difference between them, and there IS NO kind justice when shit like this happens, people are going to start settling for home-made justice. That’s just the way it works.

    “To protect and to serve,” my ass!


  9. #9 |  Jesse | 

    At some point these police departments, and the unions that protect them, really start to smack of nothing more than outright gangsterism. There really are more similarities in their conduct and tactics to the mafia then there are differences, and if a federal prosecutor wanted to get creative (like they tend to do with other private citizens) they could charge the whole PPD and the union under RICO statues, for the crime of systematically depriving the Philadelphia citizenry of their civil rights. Federal marshalls could perp walk the entire department into waiting buses.

  10. #10 |  StrangeOne | 

    I would love to see that Jesse.

    The cops and their enablers would decry the loss of police and the assumed chaos that would follow. But, I’m reminded of when an Eastern European president (I forget which atm), newly elected and facing an incredibly corrupt police force, simply fired them all. There were the usual predictions of woe and doom, but none of them came true. It turned out crime, as reported by citizens, was far less than the crime reported by police, who were mostly fishing for bribes, things they could seize, and satisfying personal vendettas. A few months later they hired on and retrained an entire new police force, with less than a third the number of officers from before.

  11. #11 |  Alex | 

    “In an effort to cap its liability, the city in June offered $180,000 to settle the case, but Mr. Miles rejected the offer.”

    It’s probably wishful thinking to imagine the plaintiff making a counteroffer to settle for a baton and 90 seconds alone in a room with each officer.

  12. #12 |  derfel cadarn | 

    These useless taxfeeders their superiors and ALL their union officials should be put in jail. Americans can nolonger tolerate these injustices. Do you see ALL thje “good” cops lining up to protest,try aren’t any. This is the type of security that your selling out your human rights for.

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If you’re a black man who hasn’t done anything wrong and three cops approach you, it’s probably logical to assume they are more likely to beat the shit out of you than if they were ordinary non-uniformed thugs.

  14. #14 |  picachu | 

    Nobody commented on my idea of flooding human rights watch and amnesty international with emails everytime Radley posts another isolated incident. I was kind of hoping for you guys opinions. Maybe it’s just naive to think that we could accomplish something with that but it sounded like a good idea to me.

  15. #15 |  nigmalg | 

    For most people, there’s a psychological barrier when a police officer abuses his authority. By default, people don’t want to punish them.

    1.) We have laws that give officers specific exemptions under the law.
    2.) We have case law that gives officers exemptions when breaking the law.
    3.) We justify programs that allows departments to steal property without due process.
    4.) When officers are actually punished, it’s to a lesser degree than surf convictions, and this is blindly justified.

    A cop apologist is simply someone who hasn’t *yet* been abused by the police. Public unrest doesn’t seem likely for a while.

  16. #16 |  Arthur | 

    “…Mr. Miles couldn’t have logically reached the conclusion that the men were common thugs.” –Joseph J. Stine

    Common thugs vs. what Mr. Stine?

    Mr. Miles most certainly could have logically reached the conclusion that the men were badged thugs, which means they are all guaranteed to be armed and unafraid of ANY possible consequence for their actions. Unfortunately for Mr. Miles, this conclussion was also accurate.

  17. #17 |  SJE | 

    “Mr. Miles couldn’t have logically reached the conclusion that the men were common thugs.”

    Actions speak louder than words. Look at his injuries. Do they look like those you would expect from professionals sworn to uphold the law and apply only the amount of force reasonable and necessary, or do they look like what you would expect from ‘common thugs’?

    PS: sorry for an error earlier. It was only three thugs, not six.

  18. #18 |  the innominate one | 

    Even if the kid had a gun, even if he wasn’t justified in being afraid of the cops, even if he wasn’t justified in running, how the hell does any of that justify the cops beating the shit out of him?

    Fuck those cops, fuck the Philly PD and its union.

  19. #19 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #15 Arthur

    Common thugs vs. what Mr. Stine?

    vs. uniformed thugs.

  20. #20 |  Arthur | 

    #18 | Dave Krueger |

    I know, but I wanna hear Mr. Stine admit it. Probably have to wait a very long time.

  21. #21 |  GT | 

    Also – @#5 – pikachu, if that had the remotest chance of working, I would be all for it. But HRW and AI are little more than “embarrassment engines” – they only work if the target is capable of embarrassment.

    Far better – and with a longer ‘tail effect’ – to simply set up or contribut to a Dead Pool (TOR and FreeNet have a BUNCH of vengeance portals: BlackMarket and SilkRoad aren’t just for easy purchases of hallucinogens).

    It might also be fun to hack these fuckbags’ lives a bit (before their hopeful eventual demise in a hole in a cornfield): subscribe them to NAMBLA or a few kiddie porn sites, and watch hilarity ensue.

  22. #22 |  AlgerHiss | 

    I’m pretty dull-witted, but doesn’t this case relate to the Fullerton California cops killing of that fellow last summer?

  23. #23 |  John P. | 

    Please, someone explain to me how this type of behavior (and all the rest) by our cops is any different than the behavior by the Gestapo during the days of Hitlers Night and Fog Decree?

  24. #24 |  picachu | 

    Thanks GT, yea I was just curious what everyone would think. I’ve sent several emails to both of them lately. They might get back to me after the Christmas break.

  25. #25 |  FloO | 

    “…the Pittsburgh Police Department launched a full-on raid of the video store where they thought the fake release was created.”

    I think I live in a third-world country with an inflated ego.

  26. #26 |  Steve in Clearwater | 

    Thanks for the continued coverage of these extremely rare, couple times per week incidents, Radley

    (rueful heh)

    Is it possible to include the names of these officers (and those like them who are subject of lawsuits and therefore names are not concealed) in your blog coverage?

    The hacker group “anonymous” used the UCFullerton pepper spray cop as a target for publicly outing his name, address, phone numbers etc

    I’d think that more of that type response would at least give a version of social sanction that – while very limited – might be an improvement over the Utterly Helpless feeling many of us derive when confronted with news stories like this one.

  27. #27 |  John C. Randolph | 

    You could also argue that even if Miles did know they were cops, he was justified to run.

    I’d argue that running was by far the most logical alternative available to him. After all, they proved their violent intentions by beating the hell out of him.


  28. #28 |  John C. Randolph | 

    At some point these police departments, and the unions that protect them, really start to smack of nothing more than outright gangsterism.

    That point came several decades ago in most cities.


  29. #29 |  John C. Randolph | 

    how this type of behavior (and all the rest) by our cops is any different than the behavior by the Gestapo

    The Gestapo didn’t attack randomly. They were very systematic about it.


  30. #30 |  CyniCAl | 

    Steigerwald wrote, “So why is then-high school senior Miles not to be forgiven for his nervousness when adult, theoretically highly-trained cops are so often forgiven for theirs?”

    I know Steigerwald is asking a rhetorical question, but why doesn’t he just connect the dots for us? State agents are privileged. What’s the solution? End the State.

    Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t add FUCK THE MOTHERFUCKING POLICE.

  31. #31 |  Rich | 

    The Fog of War. The same mindset present in Haditha and Fallujah. Jackasses in authority exercising their power without self-restraint. Apologists abound among us to supply the narrative for the justification of such behavior raising these monsters to the level of heroes and lowering the victims to subhuman status. Never gonna change in our lifetime.

  32. #32 |  Whim | 

    It’s really doesn’t get better than this:

    A 150 lb. viola player nearly beaten to death by the police.

    I presume entire reasons for the beat-down was:

    A slow night. Late at night. Racist cops. A quota for arrests.

  33. #33 |  John P. | 

    Maybe he ran because he was afraid the cops would beat him to death…

  34. #34 |  Burgers Allday | 

    as I have said before, the Mountain Dew bottle was planted by the police (and then withdrawn):


  35. #35 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Further to previous:

    I point out the part about the Mountain Dew bottle planting because that is the correct reason to run in Mr. Miles situation.

    Police are not that likely to beat you if you do not run, but if they are willing to plant evidence on you, then you must do everything possible to avoid risking an encounter. Planted evidence will basically end your life. It is generally worse than a beat down.

    I believe that Mr. Miles actually ran because the police didn’t announce, but concerns about planted evidence actually make it reasonable to run from police.

    I also believe that if the Pittsburgh officers had it to do over again, then they would have claimed that they discovered contraband on the suspect. The problem is that Mountain Dew bottles can be traced to their source (which is why the (non-existent) bottle “disappeared”) by the things printed on the bottle. Bag of weed, not so much. Live and learn.

  36. #36 |  The Choice for 2012 Will Be Between Freedom and Tyranny (But what will the sheeple choose?) » Scott Lazarowitz's Blog | 

    […] Radley Balko: Black teen sues white cops for beating […]

  37. #37 |  Don Cordell | 

    You can read items like this all day on InjusticeEverywhere.com, and this will continue until you elect Don Cordell for President next Nov. I’m going to put a lot of cops in prison along with some of the citizens who were put there by these cops. This is out of hand all over our nation, and I am sick and tired of this. The beatings are getting worse. A 31 year old innocent man, the son of a retired Sheriff was beaten to death last July, and so far, nothing has happened to the cops. Two cops did the beating, while four others stood by and watched. This was in Fullerton, CA. In the 1945 to 1949 era in Los Angeles I was picked up by cops 7 times on suspicion, for daring to walk after dark. (I couldnt afford a car then) and held each time for 3 days, and released, with the threat, we’ll find you guilty of something one of these times, so I left Los Angeles. I’ve never owned a gun, but I know what I’d do if I was the victim like so many are now. The new SWAT uniforms also give these cowards even more ananimity to assualt us, yanked out of our cars, demands that we submit, or else. Charges for interferring with an officer if you even look crosseyed at them. So rise up and ReVote this Nov. Lets retake control of OUR nation. Click on my name and learn, what I’ll do as your President. We have the Bill of Rights, but I don’t think most cops know how to read, and they glorify dispensing Justice as they see it. Had enough? Whatcha gonna do? Lets gather the Patriots in this nation and restore Justice.

  38. #38 |  SJE | 

    “Please, someone explain to me how this type of behavior (and all the rest) by our cops is any different than the behavior by the Gestapo during the days of Hitlers Night and Fog Decree?”

    Members of the Gestapo were imprisoned and/or hanged, if the Allies got to them. If partisans got to them first, much much worse.

  39. #39 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: #10:

    That was Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

    Part of Saakashvili’s police reform was to replace the old green uniforms, legacies of the Soviet Union, with blue uniforms of the sort common in the West, replace the old Lada cruisers with either Mercedes or Volkswagens, if memory serves, and to adopt the name “Police,” written in the Roman alphabet, in place of whatever Cyrillic or Georgian name had preceded it; I have trouble keeping track of the official status of Russian vs. indigenous languages in former Soviet countries, so I don’t even try.

    Absurdly, circa 2000 Russia renamed its hated, notoriously corrupt GAI, or State Auto Inspection, DPS, or Highway Patrol Service, but kept the same crooks and thugs on the force. It wouldn’t surprise me that Saakashvili was aware of that farce and made sure not to repeat it in Georgia.

  40. #40 |  Homeboy | 

    @ #34, Burgers Allday

    Thanks for providing the names of these lying, criminal savages. According to the article to which you link, they are: Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing.

  41. #41 |  Kitty Antonik Wakfer | 

    Disgusted with the actions of Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing, the Pittsburgh police officers who severely beat Jordan Miles on Jan. 12, 2010? (And note that it’s not an “alleged” beating, since these legalized thugs don’t deny doing it, but rather that they were justified in doing so….)

    The appropriate action for everyone disgusted in this situation, and the large number of similar ones by government enforcers everywhere, is to withdraw ALL VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATION with them – no sales, no service, no camaraderie, NO VOLUNTARY ANYTHING! Shame, shun and ostracize these gangsters (government variety) widely, in-person and electronically. Now for this to be effective, their recent photos are necessary – their general location of Pittsburgh is sufficient for people to know in order to withhold any voluntary association. Photos of all 3 of these men taken in the past couple of years are available online with a web search on their names sufficiently detailed enough for them to be recognizable – unless they take considerable measures to disguise themselves…. Current photos are necessary to facilitate continued negative Social Preferencing of these individuals until they restitute Jordan Miles (and others they have similarly harmed) and continue as government ENFORCERS.

    To simply criticize verbally or in writing (mostly anonymously) but then voluntarily associate with these and other legalized thugs (in person or electronically) is inconsistent. Letting it be known publicly WHY you are ceasing or not initiating voluntary association will likely encourage others to do the same. When government enforcer becomes an unpopular job, governments will be less able to do all the harm they currently try – it’s only the enforcers that make all the legislated words more than just that. More: “Tax/Regulation Protests are Not Enough: Relationship of Self-Responsibility and Social Order” – http://selfsip.org/focus/protestsnotenough.html

  42. #42 |  Kristen | 

    Errrr…Don….several of the Fullerton officers were charged with felonies. Not to say that’s enough (pre-meditated murder would be alright by me), but your contention that “nothing happened” is incorrect. You should read more Balko.

  43. #43 |  Pam | 

    “Said city Solicitor Dan Regan, “We continue to maintain there is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of our officers”

    Miles face?

  44. #44 |  CyniCAl | 

    Good to see voluntarist K.A. Wakfer commenting here. Just wanted to let you know Kitty, that I have ostracized a “friend” who works for Goldman Sachs along your principles of shunning. Keep up the good work, I believe in your non-violent approach to anti-statism.

  45. #45 |  CyniCAl | 

    @#42 Kristen

    Only two Fullerton P.D. were charged with felonies to my knowledge.