On the witness stand this morning, former CAPA High School Student Jordan Miles said he was relieved on Jan. 12, 2010 when police vehicles arrived on the scene in Homewood after his altercation with three white men near his mother's home.
"I thought I was going to be saved," Miles told jurors Thursday afternoon during his civil trial against three undercover City of Pittsburgh Police officers. He testified that at the time, he thought "one of the neighbors called the cops" after seeing the altercation. As it turned out, of course, the three white men were police officers themselves.
Miles told a very different story Thursday compared to the one those Pittsburgh Police -- Michael Saldutte, Richard Ewing and David Sisak -- are expected to tell when they take the stand in their own defense sometime next week.
Miles spoke softly but confidently as he relayed his version of events. Miles testified he left his mother's house and headed to his grandmother's home where he slept, while talking on the phone to his friend Jamiah Anderson. Miles said he noticed a vehicle just down the street and was a bit concerned by it.
As he walked down Tioga Street, he testified, the vehicle came toward him and stopped nearby, parking at an angle. Miles was walking in the street because the sidewalks were covered in snow and ice; he said he moved toward the sidewalk because "I thought I was going to be hit" by the car.
The men exited the car, and Miles testified that they demanded his "gun, money, drugs."
"I thought I was going to be robbed," testified Miles, who said he was "terrified."
Miles said he took off running to his mother's house, but slipped on the ice, falling on his knees and his hands. Miles said he next remembers one of the men sitting on his back; he recalled being punched in the head as officers were tugging at his jacket. Miles meanwhile said he was trying to pull his jacket together as a means of protection.
"It felt as if I was being hit everywhere on my body at the same time," Miles said. Eventually Miles was cuffed -- and even after that, he testified, he was still hit and beaten by the officers.
He said he began to pray, but one of the officers "choked" him, told him to shut up and pushed his face in the snow. Miles said he had a difficulty breathing and again began to pray silently and attempted to lift his head. At that point, "another man choked me and said, 'Didn't he tell you to shut up?'" After that, Miles said, "I gave up trying to raise my head out of the snow."
Miles suffered swelling on his face and had a large patch of his dreadlocks missing. But on the stand he said he didn't realize the hair was missing until an inmate at the Allegheny County Jail mentioned it.
The court took a lunch break, and the afternoon is being taken up by Miles' cross examination by Ewing's attorney, Jim Wymard.
Wymard questioned Miles for about five minutes before lunch; he spent most of that time arguing over apparent differences in phrasing. For example, he asked Miles about the day of the incident, "So you didn't do your homework that day?' To which Miles replied, "I don't think I had any homework that day." Wymard thundered back, "I asked you if you did your homework that day!"
If the questioning stays at that tone all afternoon, Miles is in for a long day.