Two years ago this week, at 11pm on Jan 11 2010, there was an event involving three Pittsburgh policemen and one young man.
The three police officers were in a "99 car", which is a special sort of squad. Between them, these three officers accounted for 20% of Pittsburgh's illegal firearms arrests (no data available on convictions) in the previous year.
More recently, on Christmas Eve it was also an unmarked "99 Car" with plainclothes police that shot and killed a 24-year old black man who was trying to get away from them.
There is no independent truth from two years ago, no video tape or disinterested eyewitnesses, but it seems like everybody's version involves these common elements:
- The plain-clothes cops saw Jordan Miles and got out of their unmarked car.
- Jordan Miles ran away.
- They chased him, tased him, and beat him.
- They stuck a tree branch through his cheek, and ripped the hair out of a portion of his head.
The three cops spent a year off duty, drawing full pay and benefits, and even drawing the overtime money etc. they would have earned if they hadn't taken a year off with pay.
Local government decided not to investigate the event because the Feds were going to look at it. The Feds decided there was insufficient evidence to make a conviction of the police officers likely.
The City Of Pittsburgh has paid a retired cop to report that (acccording to the policemen's official version of events) the police acted consistently with their training. The consultant did not say that the official version was true, or that what the policemen did was either legal, moral, or justifiable. Pittsburgh Courier contributor Louis 'Hop' Kendrick writes that Pittsburgh paid Jesse James to investigate Frank James.
The police say that Jordan Miles had a Mountain Dew they thought was a gun. There is no Mountain Dew can/bottle in the evidence. The city's consultant explains that absence as an excusable, understandable failure to secure evidence.
A year ago, on the first anniversary of the beating, the Post-Gazette said,
A year after what looks like the unnecessarily harsh treatment of a law-abiding citizen, there is no sign of movement toward a just conclusion.
Pittsburghers have a right to know what happened to Jordan Miles. He and the officers have a right to see the facts aired in public. Until that day, a cloud will hang over Pittsburgh and what passes for justice, accountability and transparency in this city.
Until this is resoved, the Beating of Jordan Miles will continue to reflect poorly on the city of Pittsburgh and on the great majority of the police force who had nothing to do with it.