Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Police Say They Were Suspicious of Miles, Believe He Had a Gun

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Police Say They Were Suspicious of Miles, Believe He Had a Gun

Article excerpt

An officer named in the Jordan Miles civil suit testified Thursday that two moments raised his suspicion enough for him to justify punching the teenager three times in the face during an encounter in Homewood four years ago.

Pittsburgh police Officer David Sisak, 38, testified that he became suspicious of Mr. Miles, now 22, when he did not feel Mr. Miles provided him with a logical explanation as to why at 11 p.m. he was spotted around a home on Tioga Street that was not his own.

The second moment, Officer Sisak said, came when Officer Michael Saldutte mentioned a gun and Officer Sisak saw Mr. Miles reach for his waistband.

"I've said all along, I believe he had a gun," Officer Sisak said.

He said when his partner mentioned a gun and Mr. Miles' hand moved toward his waistband, "My only options were to punch him or shoot him. Yeah, I punched him as hard as I could. I thought he was going to pull out a gun and shoot me."

Officer Sisak's testimony will be central to a second civil trial in which the officers are accused of false arrest and excessive force, which hinges as much on what the officers believed was happening as what actually happened.

In the first trial, eight jurors agreed to exonerate the officers on a malicious prosecution count, but could not reach agreement on excessive force and false arrest allegations, resulting in a mistrial.

Attorneys for Mr. Miles attempted to poke holes Thursday in Officer Sisak's testimony by noting that a gun was never found, that Officer Sisak could not explain how Mr. Miles could have disposed of a gun and that the officers did not call a gun dog to search the scene, although they had in at least one previous, unrelated arrest.

The attorneys similarly questioned Officer Richard Ewing, who now works in McCandless, and who also said he believes to this day that Mr. Miles had a gun, even if he never saw one. …

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