The officers were apparently ready for trouble when they approached Jordan Miles. Jordan Miles, an innocent boy standing in his neighborhood, likely was unprepared for what occurred. The fight was three-on-one. The officers were armed; Jordan Miles was not. The officers were trained in violence; Jordan Miles, not.
Even after the beating, even after the photographs depicted what occurred, the officers still held every advantage. Inexplicably, Jordan Miles was charged with criminal conduct; equally inexplicably (unless one considers the history of prosecutors' treatment of police brutality in Pittsburgh), the officers have not been charged. While Jordan Miles recuperated from horrific injuries, the officers skated on off-the-street duty, even scoring overtime pay. The men who beat Jordan Miles have had benefit of doubt most citizens give to police officers (as citizens should). The lawyers making decisions about the case so far -- prosecutors deciding whether criminal charges should be filed (and against whom), city solicitors deciding whether to disclose information -- have all worked for the government. Some of them were the officers' pals. Most seemed far more interested in protecting the city and the officers than in arranging justice.
That balance of power changed today, however, when Jordan Miles filed a complaint against the officers and their employer in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
In this venue, Jordan Miles will have lawyers. Not hacks from the city law department, nor politically corroded prosecutors, but lawyers of his choosing, likely aided by others with relevant experience and skills (such as those affiliated with the American Civil Liberties Union). The magistrate judge and Article III judge handling the case will be part of a federal bench that knows -- and therefore disrespects -- the city as a litigant. Rules of evidence and federal judges -- instead of the city law department -- will decide which evidence is to be made available, and when. A jury will issue a judgment (unless InsolvenCity settles). The Police Bureau's obnoxious record -- admitted, longstanding and widespread abuse of citizens, culminating in a consent decree involving the United States Department of Justice, overseen by the ACLU -- has apparently been forgotten by city officials, but that record of established brutality will bolster Jordan Miles' case in court.
January 12 of this year was a bad day for Jordan Miles. Today is the first of a number of bad days for the officers who picked the wrong
(If it genuinely required three officers to subdue a single unarmed, innocent honor student -- and the fight was fierce enough to justify the beating those officers inflicted -- it would probably be best for everyone were those officers to remain on off-the-street duty for the rest of their careers. Because if any one of those