Remember the great Jordan Miles Press Release Hoax? The FOP sure does. As for the DA . . . we'll see.
Chris Young at City Paper has the latest on the investigation of the fake press release making fun of the police union, which you may recall was headed by an FOP official. Turns out police -- before executing a search warrant of a private business, and seizing their computer system -- didn't get guidance from the District Attorney's office on whether a crime may have been committed. That usually happens on close calls -- like whether or not a satirical press release rises to trademark infringement or identity theft, as the FOP alleged.
According to Mike Manko, spokesperson for Allegheny County District Attorney's office, police approached the DA in early February for "advice on whether or not any laws were broken." That was weeks after seven police officers raided the Dreaming Ant video store in Bloomfield, trying to chase down whoever used its wireless network to e-mail the release. (It would also be after police told City Paper and other outlets that charges would likely involve trademark counterfeiting, identity theft and fraud.)
Some observers say the police should have sought out legal guidance before the Jan. 19 raid ... especially because once its computer was impounded, Dreaming Ant was forced to close for two days.
David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says that in run-of-the-mill cases, police often launch an investigation without first seeking the DA's input. But he believes this case should have been an exception.
For one thing, he says, it's a potential conflict of interest for the police to be investigating the matter, since their own union was the target. "If there is a victim here, it's the FOP," he says. "That alone calls for the DA making the judgment."
Meanwhile, it's only 22 days until the Pittsburgh Police, we suppose, begin seizing your office or personal computer after you pull an April Fool's Day joke. And as we said back in January -- and is still true now -- it's worth noting that the FOP seems more interested in reaching a resolution to the press release case than they do to the Miles arrest and beating case itself, which has stretched on for 14 months now. As union president Dan O'Hara told the CP, "I am a victim in this investigation."