Another heated day in Miles v. Saldutte, Et al.
Starting the day, the plaintiff called police defendant David Sisak to the stand. A unique aspect of civil lawsuits in federal court is that the plaintiff may call a defendant in the case.
Attorney Robert Giroux hammered Sisak over multiple inconsistencies between the police report filed the night Miles was arrested, the FBI investigation made by Sisak, as well as his statements to OMI (Office of Municipal Investigations….aka Pittsburgh police’s internal affairs department). Much of what Sisak was questioned on today was not brought up at the first trial, and is very new to the public and media.
During the first trial (insert link from Sisak’s testimony last trial) Sisak would look at the jury, smile, wink, and shrug at them when asked questions he didn’t like. Sisak tried the same tactic with this new jury, but with Robert Giroux hammering him on inconsistencies and a phantom Mountain Dew bottle, Sisak was very much on the defensive.
“I thought he had a gun. My only option was to punch him or shoot him… I didn’t want to kill him,” Sisak testified.
Giroux continued to hammer Sisak about the inconsistencies between his statements and previous testimony over the last four years prompting Sisak to hang his head on the witness stand and fire back at Giroux that “you kept putting words into his mouth.”
Giroux had Sisak demonstrate to the jury how Saldutte tackled Miles the first time, as well as how Miles “donkey-kicked Saldutte.”
“Don’t kick him for real, Judge Cercone joked, based on the heated exchanges between the lawyer and the officer. After the demonstration Giroux picked up a pen that fell out of Sisak’s coat. “Guess we know how you lost your handcuffs now,” Giroux remarked.
“Did you see Jordan Miles doing anything wrong when you first saw him?” Giroux asked.
“I didn’t see him doing anything except walking,” Sisak replied.
“I’ll be honest with you, i hit him as hard as I could,” Sisak explained after being asked to walk the jury through the altercation, talking about his tackling of Jordan and punching him in the head.
“Absolutely, I rode him through the bushes,” Sisak explained, when asked about Jordan being tackled into the bushes.
When further pressed about a gun, Sisak told the jury, “We didn’t find a gun. I don’t know what he (Jordan) had on him… I didn’t do the search.”
Giroux stressed that Sisak, who was supposedly in fear for his life thinking Miles had a gun, didn’t even bother looking for a gun when Miles was finally in custody. Sisak explained that when it was over and Miles was cuffed, he just laid back to take a minute for himself and relax.
“Are you sure you’re just not saying there was a empty bottle of Mountain Dew on Jordan Miles to justify punching him?” Giroux asked.
“How could Jordan have had a gun next to an empty bottle of Mountain Dew in his coat? Giroux continued. “Why would anybody carry around an empty bottle of Mountain Dew?”
Giroux had a point. There are many inconsistencies between the officers’ statements during the FBI investigation, the OMI report, and the officers’ testimony during the first trial in 2012.
“Mike (Saldutte) took out the bottle from his coat and threw it up the street…he was upset.” Sisak claimed, when asked about what happened to the empty bottle of pop.
The OMI report states that it was Sisak who suggested throwing the alleged bottle away, citing Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Property Room procedures. This fact was not brought up in the first trial.
Sisak sat on the stand, visibly angry, and at times looking defeated. During the first recess, Sisak was overheard talking to other officers that came to show their support, that those reports were bullshit and not 100% accurate. This is despite Sisak signing documents affirming that his statements were accurate across the board.
Officer Ewing defiantly took the stand next, claiming dramatically that, “it happened like that because it’s the truth,” contesting Giroux’s recounting of Jordan Miles’ account of the night in question. He also told Giroux that “you are putting words in my mouth.”
Ewing’s testimony was the same as the first trial.
After seven hours, court broke for the weekend to resume Monday morning. The trial is continue through March. On the first day of proceedings, Judge Cercone told jurors the trial would take two-and-a-half weeks, but this seems highly unlikely based on our experiences at the first trial.