Thursday, August 12, 2010

Protesters Want Action in Miles Case

Protesters delivered a petition to the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office today demanding the prosecution of three white Pittsburgh policemen who allegedly beat black high school student Jordan Miles in January.

The activists contend that too much time has passed since the January 12th event without a prosecution of the officers.

But when the group handed about 1,000 signatures to D.A. spokesman Mike Manko, he told them that they would have to continue waiting for an investigation because the FBI assumed control of the case.

“It is the policy of the District Attorney’s office not to conduct simultaneous parallel investigations when the federal government is involved,” says Manko. “So, like you, District Attorney [Stephen] Zappala is waiting for the results of that FBI review of civil rights matters before we take another look at this matter.”

But the protesters weren’t happy with that answer, saying Zappala’s policy isn’t legally binding and that he should investigate anyway.

Alliance for Police Accountability Director Brandi Fisher says she’s not confident that Zappala will investigate or prosecute the officers even after the FBI report comes out.

“I’m very discouraged today. I’ve been trying to keep my counterparts in the community confident in our system. We’ve been having these meetings biweekly, and I keep encouraging them to wait, and there’s a process and things don’t happen overnight, but at this point I’m not even convinced,” says Fisher.

Fisher says she’s waiting for a personal response from Zappala. Her group is planning a rally for September 18th at the site where Miles was beaten in Homewood.

Miles claims he was beaten by three plainclothes policemen as he walked in Homewood between his grandmother’s house and his mother’s house. Miles says he was beaten with a tree branch, punched, and had his hair pulled out. The policemen say they thought he was armed, but Miles turned to have a soda bottle. The city dropped criminal charges against him in March. The Citizens Police Review Board is also investigating the incident. Miles was a senior honors student at the Creative and Performing Arts High School.

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