PITTSBURGH — A young black man who claims he was wrongly beaten by three Pittsburgh police officers in January 2010 is to have a new trial on two of his three civil rights claims starting Nov. 4.
The retrial of Jordan Miles' lawsuit was to have begun July 8, but it was delayed by the new judge assigned after the recent death of the judge who handled the first trial.
U.S. District Judge David Cercone was assigned to the case after the death of Chief U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster last month, and he met for the first time with new attorneys for Miles and the police officers.
Miles' new attorneys, Joel Sansone, of Pittsburgh and Robert Giroux, an associate of Detroit-based Geoffrey Fieger, requested a delay because they've not had time to review the transcript of the first trial. Those attorneys sued the Pennsylvania State Police on behalf of a 12-year-old black boy who was fatally gunned down by troopers after a brief stolen-car chase in a case that settled for $12.5 million in 2008.
Jordan Miles was an 18-year-old performing arts student when he was arrested by officers who claimed they thought he was prowling with a gun bulging in his coat pocket. The police say the gun turned out to be a soda bottle — though Miles denies having even that and says he wasn't prowling, but was merely walking from his mother's house to his grandmother's, one street over, while talking on his cellphone.
An eight-member federal jury in August found the officers didn't maliciously prosecute Miles but couldn't decide whether Miles was wrongly arrested or subjected to excessive force.
Officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing — who has since left the city police force — have denied wrongdoing. They acknowledge Miles was punched and kicked, but only because he allegedly fought with them.
Sansone said Miles' original attorneys, Timothy O'Brien and J. Kerrington Lewis, will help the new lawyers prepare for the retrial.
Robert Leight, one of the officers' attorneys, said they had opposed the delay.
"We wanted to go July 8," Leight said.
Miles' attorneys are expected to ask Cercone to reconsider at least two key rulings by Lancaster, one being that the malicious prosecution count cannot be retried. They're also expected to challenge a pretrial ruling that kept Miles' attorneys from presenting evidence about the officers' disciplinary histories at last year's trial.