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Jordan Miles hires two attorneys for civil trial against Pittsburgh officers

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 1:24 p.m.

A Homewood man bolstered his legal team with two high-profile attorneys in preparation for a November civil trial to try to prove that three Pittsburgh police officers falsely arrested him and used excessive force.

Jordan Miles, 21, hired attorneys Joel Sansone and Robert Giroux to try the case scheduled for Nov. 4 before U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone.

Sansone of Pittsburgh and Giroux of Detroit represented Michael Hickenbottom, the father of Michael Ellerbe, 12, who died when two Pennsylvania State Police troopers shot him in the back in 2002. A jury awarded Hickenbottom $28 million.

Miles' trial was postponed from a July 8 start because the attorneys are new to the case.

“We wanted to go July 8,” said Robert Leight, an attorney for one of the officers said Thursday after a status conference with Cercone.

Miles claims that Officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing lacked probable cause to arrest him when they stopped him on Jan. 12, 2010, on Tioga Street in Homewood. Miles accused the officers of beating him when they subdued and handcuffed him after he ran from them.

The officers contend his injuries resulted from his violent struggle to escape apprehension. Miles injured Sisak during the arrest by kicking him in the knee, the officers say.

A federal jury in August found the officers not guilty on a malicious prosecution count but deadlocked on excessive force and false arrest counts. The city settled Miles' claims for $75,000.

Sansone said he will file a motion that would permit the jury to rule on all three charges. The city would pay any damages a jury awards if it rules against the officers.

U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster, who died last month, had said they could be retried only on the two deadlocked counts.

“(Cercone) reminded us that he had respect for Judge Lancaster, but said there may be issues that may be revisited,” Sansone said.

Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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