Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Mom Didn't Recognize Jordan Miles After Police Beating

The mother of a young black man who claims three white Pittsburgh police officers wrongfully beat and arrested him told jurors Wednesday that her son's injuries made him unrecognizable when she picked him up at the county jail the next night.

Terez Miles' testimony came in her son's federal civil rights trial against the officers stemming from an incident on Jan. 12, 2010.

At about 9:30 the next night, Miles went to pick up her 18-year-old son, Jordan, and watched several other inmates emerge from jail and fan out to other waiting cars.

"One of them was coming toward me and I started to feel a little uncomfortable because I didn't recognize him," Terez Miles testified. When the man was several feet away, "He said, 'Mom, I need to go to the hospital,' and I went hysterical for a little while."

Jordan Miles is expected to testify Thursday against officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak, who have claimed they thought Miles — who was walking to his grandmother's house to spend the night — was an armed prowler and that they only used force to subdue him because he fought with them and ran away.

The officers have also claimed they thought a soda bottle in his pocket was a gun, though Miles' attorneys contend there was no soda bottle when he was arrested about 11 p.m., and that the story is a thinly veiled pretext to justify the officers' overreaction and brutality.

The officers have never produced the bottle, claiming they threw it away. Miles' attorneys argued the bottle's absence bolsters their claim that their client was rousted simply because he was a young black man in a high-crime area.

Miles' mother said he didn't have anything in his coat pocket when he left to walk to his grandmother's moments before his arrest. She said she's sure of that because she closely examined the coat upon learning it was a birthday present from his grandmother the day before.

Miles contends he was badly beaten and that one of the officers pulled dreadlocks from his head. The officers say most of Miles' injuries resulted when he was tackled through some hedges — on which they claimed his hair snagged — and slipped in the snow, hitting his head on the sidewalk.

Earlier Wednesday, Miles' grandmother, Patricia Porter testified that Miles was so unnerved by the incident that he withdrew from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford when police were called to a disturbance that didn't even involve him in his dormitory months later.

His grandmother's testimony isn't relevant to Miles' version of his arrest, but his attorneys want the jury to award damages because they claim his promising academic career was derailed by his resulting memory problems and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Miles, now 20, was a violist at the city's performing arts high school. Porter, a former public school teacher, said Miles has trouble concentrating and studying now, and that his post-arrest demeanor "was like someone coming home from war, traumatized."

But James Wymard, one of the officers' attorneys, introduced evidence that undercut Miles' academic claims while cross-examining his grandmother.

Although Miles' grades dipped in his final high school semester after the beating — from a 3.4 grade-point average to 2.4 — Wymard noted that Miles had gotten C's and D's in math classes in prior years, and scored poorly on a college entrance exam the previous November.

Miles' attorney, J. Kerrington Lewis, has described his client as an "honors student" to the jury, but Wymard noted that Miles graduated 85th out of 115 students in his class.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.