The Pittsburgh police case against honor student Jordan Miles -- for beating three officers' tree branch with his mouth, assaulting city pavement with his face, and abrading officers' hands with his hair as they pulled it from his scalp -- has been dismissed by a magisterial district judge.
Judge Oscar Pettite apparently declined to rely on key elements of police evidence, at least in part because they didn't exist. The Mountain Dew bottle police identified in affidavits and testimony as the object they mistook for a gun in Miles' pocket, for example, either has disappeared or never existed. A statement in a police affidavit, in which a homeowner (described by the district attorney's officer as the ostensible victim of a prowling charge) described Miles as a stranger, was contradicted in court -- by the testimony of that homeowner, who told the court that Miles is a friend of her children.
City police union official Charles Hanlon expressed outrage concerning the obvious injustice: "We firmly believe there was enough evidence to hold those charges . . . We plan to lobby the district attorney pretty hard to refline those charges."
Hanlon exhibited discretion by refraining from pointing with specificity to the evidence that makes it obvious that a crime occurred along Tioga Street in Homewood in the dark hours of January 11: That sidewalk didn't bleed on itself. That tree branch didn't imbed itself in Miles' gum. That dreadlock didn't pull itself out of Miles' head. Hanlon is likely to get his wish -- additional charges in this case -- but statements from an FBI official suggest those new charges might not come from the source he envisions, nor travel in the direction he prefers. Hanlon probably knows this, which would explain why the men who beat Miles have lawyered up.
A few questions:
(1) Did the district attorney interview the "victim" of the alleged prowling, Monica Gooding, before her courtroom testimony eviscerated the police affidavit on which the prosecution relied?
(2) Has the district attorney investigated the circumstances concerning the so-far illusory bottle of Mountain Dew?
(3) Did the district attorney consult a use-of-force expert concerning the nature of Jordan Miles' injuries?
(4) Would city taxpayers get a bargain if the city preemptively offered Miles a free college education (including grad school, Jordan); a modest home in the city; donations in his name to the NAACP and the ACLU; and a front-row seat at the disciplinary hearings for the officers who beat the hell out of him? (Doug Shields also seems to think this might be a pertinent question.)