The U.S. Department of Justice announced today it has closed its investigation into the 2010 beating of Jordan Miles, saying "federal officials concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that three Pittsburgh police officers violated the Homewood teen's civil rights.
"The U.S. Attorney's Office, the Civil Rights Division and the FBI, working together, conducted an exhaustive review of the incident, which included interviews of more than 40 witnesses, some on multiple occasions, visits to the scene and careful review of all police reports, medical records, photographs, laboratory reports, cell phone records and other documentation related to the incident," the Justice Department wrote in a statement. "After a lengthy, independent, and thorough review consuming hundreds of hours of agent and prosecutor time, federal officials determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove a federal civil rights violation, beyond a reasonable doubt, against any of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers."
Mr. Miles, a former student at the city's Creative and Performing Arts high school, said he was brutally attacked by three city officers on a cold night in January as he walked between his mother's and grandmother's houses in Homewood.
The officers said they confronted Mr. Miles because he appeared to be "sneaking around" a house in the 7900 block of Tioga Street, with a heavy object in his coat that they thought was a concealed weapon. They said they identified themselves as police and ordered him to stop walking away but he refused.
They charged him with a string of crimes that a district judge later dismissed.
Officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing were almost immediately suspended as the city and the federal government launched investigations into their actions, and they remain off the job today.
The incident put a spotlight on strained community-police relations in the neighborhood as residents and activists routinely took to the streets to pressure the government to prosecute the officers, and police officers too have marched in support of their colleagues.
The Justice Department will not pursue criminal charges against the officers, it said today. "They're vindicated," Fraternal Order of Police president Dan O'Hara said. "This was a good day for the officers and for the department. The system works. It leaves very little to the imagination that these guys were doing what they were trained to do."