The Pittsburgh City Council is considering a bill that would pay $75,000 to a former performing arts student who says in a civil rights lawsuit against the city that he was wrongly beaten by three undercover officers.
An attorney for Jordan Miles, who is now 20, didn’t immediately return a call on the bill, which was reported Tuesday by a Pittsburgh newspaper. Typically, the City Council will propose such legislation only after a settlement has been agreed to in principle.
The bill wouldn’t cover claims that Miles has pending in the same federal lawsuit against Officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing, which are scheduled for trial in July in U.S. District Court.
Miles has twice refused city offers to settle the entire case: one for $180,000 and a second for that same amount plus attorney’s fees.
Miles was an 18-year-old violist at the city’s performing arts high school when he was arrested and beaten on Jan. 12, 2010. A city district judge threw out resisting arrest, aggravated assault and other charges against Miles, who has said he believed the plainclothes officers didn’t identify themselves and meant him harm when they chased him down. Miles’ attorney said his client has passed an FBI lie detector test about his version of the events.
The Department of Justice in May closed its investigation without filing criminal civil rights charges against the officers and, a day later, the city reinstated the officers – who had been suspended for 15 months – after police Chief Nate Harper said an internal investigation failed to “prove or disprove” allegations that the police wrongly beat Miles.
The officers have said they thought Miles was trespassing and mistook his soda bottle for a gun. Miles said he didn’t even have a bottle and was accosted simply for being young and black in a high-crime area. Some evidence from the March 2010 preliminary hearing at which Miles’ criminal charges were dismissed suggested police concocted a cover story to explain their actions.
At that hearing, a nearby homeowner flatly contradicted police claims that they asked whether she knew Miles or if he had permission to be on her property – where police accused him of prowling. The woman testified that Miles is a friend of her son’s and that she never told police he shouldn’t be near her residence.
The bill to settle Miles’ claims against the city alone was merely introduced Tuesday. It will require further approval by the council before it becomes official.