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January 22, 2011

The Crime of Delay

After initial press reports of the beating of Jordan Miles, the wheels of the process began to turn ever so slowly.

On January 27 2010,
Black leaders today called for prosecutors to drop criminal charges against a Homewood teenager who says three white police officers beat him during an arrest earlier this month.

During a news conference this morning, leaders of the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP called for the city to fire the officers because they beat Jordan Miles, who is black, "beyond recognition."

M. Gayle Moss, president of the local chapter, said the officers should face criminal charges for the Jan. 12 incident outside the home of Miles, 18, an honors student at the Creative and Performing Arts high school, Downtown.

On March 6 2010, charges against Jordan Miles were dismissed. Among the findings:
  • All three officers are 5 feet 11 inches or taller and weigh about 200 pounds. Mr. Miles is 5 feet 6-1/2 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds.
  • Police say they thought Jordan Miles had a gun, but it turned out to be Mountain Dew. The Dew evidence was lost. Mr. Miles said the Mt.Dew never existed.
  • Police testified that a woman claimed to not know Mr. Miles, but she contradicted their testimony.
  • Jordan Miles said, "I go to a very prestigious school. I get good grades, I don't want anyone to have an impression of me that I'm some gang-banger just because of the neighborhood that I live in."

On March 13, 2010 members of the Pittsburgh Fraternal Order of Police (FOP, the police union) don green shirts to march in today's St. Patrick's Day Parade to publicly declare their support for three officers accused of beating a Homewood teen.
In a memo dated Friday, the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 encouraged members to turn out in "unprecedented" numbers during the parade and to purchase T-shirts for $12 stating "We Support Our Three Brothers."

On the front of the shirts are the numbers 3599, police code that represents the three officers' car number the night of the controversial arrest.

The back of the shirt has the words of support and a thin blue line -- a reference to the 1988 documentary film, "The Thin Blue Line," about a man sentenced to die for the murder of a Dallas police officer he did not commit. The film's title came from the prosecutor's comment that police are the "thin blue line" separating society from anarchy.

On March 19, the FBI and a federal grand jury appeared on the scene:
The FBI this week took a DNA sample from Jordan Miles to compare to hair and braids found on a Homewood sidewalk as part of an investigation into his allegations that three Pittsburgh police officers beat him, the teenager's mother said Thursday.

"I know the FBI is looking for all kinds of evidence, including physical evidence, because the only piece of evidence which was logged into the police evidence room was the spent cartridge from the Taser," said Miles' attorney, J. Kerrington Lewis.

Subpoenas issued in connection with a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh seek interviews, police reports, medical records, witness statements and physical evidence collected as part of the initial criminal case against Miles and a city Office of Municipal Investigations review of the Jan. 12 arrest.

The Department of Justice is investigating as well, spokesman Alejandro Miyar said.

The Second Crime: Delay in a matter of Justice

When the event happened, the bureaucracy protected itself. Initially the police chief, the public safety director, the mayoral spokeswomen, the mayor - none of them were inclined to call foul, all of them (for reasons large and small) were motivated to keep their heads down and hope this thing goes away.

So the City announces an investigation. Then they learn the Feds are on the scene. In an attempt to make lemonade, the City announces that their investigation will continue but they won't release any results until the Fed inquiry is over. They don't want to damage the process. Nice.

Why would they think that? How could this posibly go away? This is where it gets ugly, this is the second crime. The delay plays to the bureaucracy's advantage in a few ways:
  • If it came to a head early, it probably wouldn't go well for the bureaucracy. It's always good policy to kick bad news down the road.
  • In another year or two, who knows what might happen to this 18-year-old living in Homewood? Maybe he'd get busted for dope and need something from the powerful. Maybe he'd get shot in a drive-by. Look at the numbers.
I'm not claiming there was a strategy session where an old hand set the course and everybody lined up behind it. I'm saying that for each factotum, the incentives were to wait and play the long game, and that economy of incentives rippled through the ranks of power like an invisible hand, and the uncoordinated result was a very efficient delay. (This is also the MO in the G-20 litigation.)

Run the clock. The House always wins. It's a classic example of how a structure of people (99% of whom are not racist, nobody's in the Klan), an organization, can act in a racist way when none of their members are overt racists. It's institutional racism.

On June 13,
Nearly 100 people marched Saturday afternoon from the Lower Hill District to Downtown to demand that three city police officers be charged for allegedly beating a Homewood teen in January.

Officers XXXXX, XXXXX, XXXXX are on paid leave while the city and a federal grand jury investigate a claim by Jordan Miles, 18, that he was assaulted during an arrest.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard offered no timetable yesterday on when the investigations might be completed.

On August 13, activists demanded arrests of the three police officers.
The officers remain on paid leave pending a civil rights investigation by the FBI.

"This is not an indictment of all police officers," said community activist Paradise Gray. "But the only time we hear about good police officers is when other officers do bad things."

The delay in deciding whether to file charges stems from the district attorney's policy not to conduct simultaneous investigations, said spokesman Mike Manko.

"We're waiting on the findings of the federal investigation," Manko said. "We appreciate your concern, but that's where this stands."

Zappala's policy irked Miles' supporters. "He has the power. He's created a policy that he can change, and he chooses not to," said Harvey Holtz of Squirrel Hill, another activist.

The city's Office of Municipal Investigations is waiting for completion of the federal investigation before releasing its report. FBI spokesman Bill Crowley could not be reached for comment.

On August 30 2010, Jordan Miles filed a federal lawsuit against Pittsburgh, seeking punitive damages, an injunction limiting the officers' contact with the public, and a declaratory judgment that their actions were illegal and unconstitutional.

In a criminal investigation, the City and the beaucracy hold a hold of influence. They control the evidence room, which apparently lost all the evidence in the event. In a federal investigation, the City still has influence. But in a civil suit, the city is just another litigant.

All of a sudden Jordan Miles has a little bit of potential power, and the bureaucracy's last hope is that over the course of time, something negative happens to Jordan Miles. That's a very dangerous situation when the City has a paramilitary force with guns, and the FOP has its own motivations for making this thing go away.

The second crime is bureaucracy cynically delaying the process.
The victim of the beating is possibly in an even more dangerous situation.

continuing - - -


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