Officers in the Jordan Miles civil suit suffered a setback in federal court today, when a witness called by the defense repeatedly declined to shore up its case.
During Miles' testimony last week, defense attorney Jim Wymard asked him if he ever told Ryan Allen, a former high school friend, that he'd been carrying Mountain Dew back in January 2010, when he encountered Pittsburgh police officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak. Police have contended that they mistook the bottle for a gun; during the resulting encounter, Miles claims to have been beaten by officers -- who he says didn't identify themselves.
On the stand last week, Miles testified that he didn't have a bottle, and that he never told Allen any such thing. This morning, Allen pretty much agreed.
Allen was called to testify by the officers regarding a statement he made to the FBI in February 2011; according to a report made during that investigation, Allen said that Miles told him that he had a bottle. But on Monday morning, Allen repeatedly told Wymard that he didn't remember saying that to the FBI -- and that he didn't recall Miles ever saying that to him.
"I don't remember telling [Special Agent Sonia Bush] that," Allen testified. Wymard appeared frustrated by Allen's response and began asking the same questions in different ways, but Allen continued to say he didn't remember. Wymard insinuated that Allen didn't want to testify to what he heard Miles say because he didn't want to hurt Miles' case.
"I'm not here to hurt or harm," Allen said. "I'm not picking sides."
During cross-examination, Miles attorney Tim O'Brien gave Allen another chance to defend his story: "There is a suggestion here that you would lie to help Jordan."
"I'm trying to give you what I remember," Allen replied.
Allen's testimony comes as a blow to the defense. No Mountain Dew bottle was taken into evidence -- police say they tossed it away at the scene -- and Allen was an independent witness corroborating the officers' version of events. Wymard has mentioned Allen several times throughout the trial, intimating to jurors that he would back up the officers' claims.
Earlier this morning, the defense called Patricia Colman and her son A-Ron Roberts. The pair live in the house next to where Miles' incident with police took place. They both testified that the morning after the event, they found the bushes on the property broken down, and there was blood on the ground and hair in the bushes. The officers claim Miles sustained a lot of his injuries when he was tackled through hedges. Miles says that did not happen.
On cross-examination, though, Miles' attorney introduced a photo that showed there were additional strands of Miles' hair laying on the ground. The officers also claim that Miles was sneaking around a house late at night giving them suspicion that he was up to something. Miles says he was walking down the middle of the street.
Defense attorneys have applied that Miles could have been cutting between the houses to take a shortcut to his grandmother's house on the next street over. But Roberts testified that it was impossible to do that because of a fence and over-grown trees.
Testimony will continue this afternoon.