Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Brass: Miles Arrest Not by Book Jury in Civil Case against 3 Officers Hears about City Police Procedures

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Brass: Miles Arrest Not by Book Jury in Civil Case against 3 Officers Hears about City Police Procedures

Article excerpt

The arrest of Jordan Miles wasn't by the book, at least according to the police procedures described by a Pittsburgh police commander called to testify in the civil trial pitting the Homewood man against three officers.

"We do not train officers to punch in the head," said Cmdr. RaShall Brackney, who was subpoenaed to testify by Mr. Miles' attorneys, and smilingly addressed the jury for most of Tuesday afternoon. "You're probably going to do more damage to your hand as opposed to that head."

Similarly, knee strikes to the head are "not taught," the commander said. "Knee strikes to a suspect's head would be considered deadly force."

Cmdr. Brackney was barred from offering opinions on the conduct of officers David Sisak, Michael Saldutte and Richard Ewing, who often shook their heads as she talked about policies and procedures. Though she ran Zone 5, which includes Homewood, at one time in her 30-year career, she was in her current post in Zone 1, serving the North Side, by the time of the Jan. 12, 2010, arrest of Mr. Miles.

In that arrest, the officers have said they saw Mr. Miles between two houses, identified themselves, questioned him, thought they saw a bulge in his pocket, and then gave chase.

According to their accounts, Officer Saldutte tried to grab Mr. Miles from behind, but was felled by an elbow to the head. Officer Sisak has said he tackled Mr. Miles through a bush, went down after taking a donkey kick to the knee, and then punched the subject three times in the head. And Officer Ewing has said his knee strikes to Mr. Miles' head or neck finally subdued the struggling man, who seemed to have a hard object in a coat pocket.

Mr. Miles, now 22, had just turned 18.

Cmdr. Brackney testified that tackling isn't recommended because the officer's hands can get caught under the subject.

"It's much simpler to push when someone is running from you, to put them off balance," she said. …

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