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February 07, 2013

Black and Blue : Jordan Miles and the Police Chief

Article in the Post-Gazette about Police Chief Harper forming a business along with several subordinates: a civilian police clerk and three officers, including a sergeant he later promoted to commander.

Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, however, questioned the arrangement involving officers and their superior and said it was irrelevant whether the business was currently operating. "I think it's an unethical relationship and I think it's completely inappropriate," she said.

In another matter, the P-G reports that a federal grand jury is investigating how a contract was awarded to a former friend of the chief.

Entrepreneur Art Bedway, his wife Colleen Bedway and Pittsburgh police Sgt. Gordon J. McDaniel, who oversees the bureau's vehicles, all appeared before the grand jury Tuesday. Former city employee Christine Ann Kebr, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the contract, appeared Wednesday before the grand jury.

Nothing unusual for Pittsburgh in any of this. But I'd like to raise a question about what light these events might shed on the recent civil trial in the Jordan Miles case.

To many, the key point of the trial was Police Chief Nate Harper's testimony. From KDKA:

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For the second day, Jordan Miles’ attorneys were unsuccessful at getting Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper to testify Miles was improperly arrested and beaten in January 2010.

Chief Harper testified his officers didn’t do anything wrong when they threw away a pop bottle.

He said the bottle wasn’t relevant because it didn’t pertain directly to the charges police filed against Miles.

The key persuasive moment in the racially charged case of the three white officers charged with improperly arresting and beating the black youth was when the black police chief took the stand and said everything that the officers did was right.

Here's my question, and thank you for staying with it: Did Chief Harper have a conflict of interest in vouching for the three police officers in the Jordan Miles affair, if he was in business with other officers? Did he have a story he could not afford to have brought to light? If the Police Chief leaves office under a cloud, after his testimony swung the Jordan Miles case, does Miles get a do-over?

Justice for Jordan Miles.

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