A U.S. Justice Department decision not to charge three Pittsburgh police officers with civil rights violations in the case of Jordan Miles brought relief for the accused and disillusionment for the teen whose name became inextricably linked with police brutality, says the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Undercover officers said they confronted Miles, then 18, because he appeared to be “sneaking around” a house with a heavy object in his coat they thought was a concealed weapon.
Miles said officers did not identify themselves and attacked him without cause as he walked between his mother’s and grandmother’s homes. His allegations stirred racial tensions and outraged activists, who called for the officers’ firings. Miles said he suffered a number of injuries, including repeated blows to the head. Witold Walczak of the American Civil Liberties Union aid the injuries easily rose to excessive force. In the end, the Justice Department decided it couldn’t prove the officers acted willfully. “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,” the Justice Department said. “Neither negligence, accident, mistake, fear, nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish such a criminal violation.”