Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Police Officer's Testimony Differs Vastly from Jordan Miles' Testimony in his Civil Case

The defense of three Pittsburgh police officers accused in Jordan Miles' civil trial began today.

A tactics training officer took the stand to explain how officers decide the appropriate force level to use. Pittsburgh Police Officer David Wright has been training police in the use of force since 1999. He outlined how officers are trained to use force, and in what situations. On the stand, he said police often have to make very fast decisions or risk injury or loss of life. The three officers on trial beat Jordan Miles because, they say, he tried to flee and resisted arrest, plus they thought he had a gun.

The attorney for Jordan Miles outlined the extensive martial arts and other training the three officers have received, and asked if it was proper procedure for officers to continue to beat a suspect after he's been handcuffed. Wright said it depends on the situation and that being handcuffed doesn't necessarily mean resistance has stopped. Wright also said he considers repeated blows to the head with fists or blows to the head with a hard object "deadly force." Miles has said he was hit on the head with a sharp object, though the officers deny that.

After Wright, one of three officers outlined the night of the incident in which Miles was beaten.

Michael Saldutte has been a Pittsburgh Police officer since about 2006. He was one of three plainclothes officers in an unmarked police vehicle who beat and arrested Jordan Miles on the night of January 12, 2010 in Homewood, which the officer described as a high-crime area.

In his testimony, Saldutte said the officers repeatedly identified themselves as Pittsburgh Police, and showed badges. Miles has said they did not, and he didn't know they were police. Saldutte also said Miles was acting "suspicious" and, after finding out he did not live at the house he was spotted near, he asked the then 18-year old African American why he was "sneaking around" someone else's house.

An attorney for Miles fired back that had the incident taken place in another neighborhood, such as Mt. Lebanon, the officers would have been more apt to ask for ID, rather than jump to the conclusion that he was "sneaking around."

Saldutte also testified that he believed Miles was carrying a gun because of his body language and a bulge in his jacket, which he says turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. Even after Miles was arrested and taken away from the scene, officers continued to look for a gun, but one was never found. The Mountain Dew bottle, police say, was thrown away. Miles says there was never a bottle of Mountain Dew, and he was not carrying any weapons.

Saldutte is a certified trainer of pressure point control techniques and a proficient practitioner of Krav Maga, a martial arts and self-defense system used by the Israeli Army. Still, the officer testified that he and the other two officers — David Sisak, and Richard Ewing — could not control Miles, who kept trying to flee and attack.

Miles maintains he didn't know the men were police, and doesn't deny that he tried to get away.