The morning started out ordinarily enough for everyone. Jurors reported to Judge Cercone’s jury room by 9 a.m. and began their second day of deliberations. Media camped outside Courtroom 7 are joking with one another and discussing stories that broke over the weekend. Covering court proceedings is slow and exhausting, there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. All of that would change by the end of the day.
One U.S. Marshal sat by himself, outside the entrance of the jury room, tasked with making sure the jury were not disturbed.
Around 11:30 a.m., lunch was delivered to the jury. During the transaction, Judge Cercone’s clerk Nancy told members of the media present, sitting nearby, that the jury doesn’t deliberate at lunch “but, if I were you, I’d stay here.” One reporter laughed and asked the group, “Did you catch that? Wonder what that meant?” Another answered, “I’m not gonna read too much into that one.”
We grabbed our lunches from the Courthouse Cafeteria and trekked back to our vigil outside the courtroom.
At 12:30 p.m., following the jury and media’s lunch breaks, Nancy reappeared to tell us that the jury had reached a verdict and attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendants were being summoned.
This sparked a flurry of activity. Journalists called their stations and papers. I ran downstairs to grab my phone from the U.S. Marshal’s security check-in to pass the word on social media, and to my comrade Nigel, manning the JusticeforJordanMiles.com website during this second civil trial.
As the minutes ticked by, each journalist who had just phoned home, good people who have covered this case over four long years, had backup sent from their TV station or newspaper HQs. I sat in courtroom 7a alone. My back-up was in Minnesota, waiting for my updates. It was truly one of the loneliest moments I have ever experienced as a journalist.
The first to arrive in the waiting room were police attorneys Leight and Campbell, tight-lipped about what they thought was about to occur while fronting their standard personnas of overconfidence. They clearly believed, that after a day and a half of deliberation, their officers must vindicated.
James Wymard entered the courtroom, joking with the media that he wanted a new trial and began selecting his new Fantasy Football jury out of the journalists gathered there.
Joel Sansone entered the courtroom calmly and quietly but confidently. He phoned Jordan to make sure that he was on the way to the court.
Off-duty officers took seats in the courtroom, but the audience was mostly compromised of media and their assistants.
Jordan arrived in a somber tone, and officers Ewing, Saldutte, and Sisak were led into the court shortly after.
Several U.S. Marshals gathered inside and outside of the courtroom, for extra security if anyone should get out-of-hand. Seems unlikely.
One head U.S. Marshal came over to shake my hand and thank me for my cooperation and understanding—after having my press credentials revoked for this trial. We shook hands and he said he’d see me at the next case. Whether that means my press credentials would be restored or not remained a mystery to me.
You could feel the tension in the courtroom. It was thick enough to drizzle over pancakes.
The judge and jury entered the courtroom. Judge Cercone reviewed the jury’s findings before asking his assistant, Nancy, to read the verdict aloud.
On the charge of Excessive Force, the jury found the officers not liable, and finds that Excessive Force was not committed
On the charge of False Arrest, the officers were each found liable and have been ordered to pay $101,016.17.
In finding Malicious Intent to commit False Arrest, the officers were ordered to each pay $6,000 in punitive damages to Mr. Miles.
All members of the media exited the courtroom at this point, to race downstairs to wait outside the courthouse for the various attorneys’ reactions.