News and Press Releases

Federal Officials Close The Investigation Involving Pittsburgh Bureau Of Police Officers

May 4, 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ United States Attorney David J. Hickton issued the following statement today:

Today, we announce that no federal criminal charges will be brought in the Jordan Miles matter.

We just met with Jordan Miles and his family and informed them of our decision.  We have also communicated our decision to the attorneys for the officers.  This was a difficult and troubling case.  The public, understandably, has many questions regarding what occurred.  However, the narrow question before us is whether there is sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.

Senior members of my staff, seasoned civil rights prosecutors from the Civil Rights Division and the FBI have conducted a thorough and independent review of this matter.  I also have personally invested a great deal of time reviewing all aspects of the investigation into this incident.

After this review, we have decided that we lack sufficient evidence to seek federal charges against the three police officers who were involved in the incident with Mr. Miles.  In order to prevail in court on a criminal civil rights charge, the government must prove that the law enforcement officer willfully deprived a person of a federally protected right.  I have concluded that the evidence in this case will not support the heavy burden of a criminal charge against the officers.  The conclusion I have reached is consistent with the conclusion reached by the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

While the facts in this matter could not support a criminal prosecution, legal restrictions relating to the confidentiality of our criminal investigations prohibit me from discussing the specifics of this case.  Any pending civil litigation brought by Mr. Miles is independent of this decision regarding criminal prosecution.

I understand that Mr. Miles, his family and members of the community may be greatly disappointed by the news that we cannot prosecute any officer in connection with this incident, while others may support the decision not to prosecute.  Be assured that the United States Attorney's Office, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a complete and thorough review and investigation of the events surrounding this matter.  Our decision not to pursue federal charges is based upon a review of all of the facts developed by that extensive investigation and specific to this case.  While no criminal indictment could be brought here, let me be clear about this: we will diligently investigate reports of illegal stops, detention and excessive force incidents, and stand ready to devote the resources required to ensure that all allegations of civil rights violations are fully investigated, and where appropriate, prosecuted.

A reproduced copy of the national press release by the United States Department of Justice follows below:

The Justice Department announced today that it will not pursue criminal charges against three Pittsburgh Bureau of Police officers in connection with the events of Jan. 12, 2010, involving former Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) student Jordan Miles.

Officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI met today with Jordan Miles and his family to inform them of the decision.

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.  After thorough review of all of the evidence, experienced federal officials concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the applicable federal criminal civil rights statutes.

Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right.  Proving "willfulness" is a heavy burden, and means that it must be proven that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids.  To act "willfully," for purposes of the federal statute, means to act with a bad purpose to disobey or disregard the law.  Neither negligence, accident, mistake, fear nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish such a criminal violation.  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.

The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers and will continue to devote the resources necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.

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