National and local NAACP representatives met with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala in Pittsburgh, Pa. on June 21 to discuss the January 2010 beating of Jordan Miles.

The NAACP appeals to the district attorney come just one month after the Justice Department announced that their office would not be filing any federal criminal charges for civil rights violations against the police officers.

According to Kim Keenan, NAACP general counsel, Zappala agreed to review the case and examine information received during the federal investigation. Although NAACP representatives pressed Zappala for a timeline, the district attorney was unable to provide a specific date for his decision.

Keenan promised that she and other NAACP representatives will be closely watching the situation, and they are optimistic about Zappala’s willingness to consider the case.

Mike Manko, spokesman for Zappala, confirmed the meeting but revealed no other information, explaining that the District Attorney had no public comments at the time.

Miles, 18-years-old at the time of the attack, was an honor student at a local performing arts high school when one night he was chased down and brutally beaten by three plainclothes White Pittsburgh Police Department officers.

According to ABC reports, Miles, who said the men never identified themselves as being police officers, was targeted because he appeared to be armed and was acting suspiciously. The officers said they thought the water bottle carried by the teen was a gun, although no such bottle was ever recovered from the scene. Miles’ attorney has also denied that the young man ever had a bottle.

Keenan explained that Miles had no prior criminal record and was never involved in any criminal activity. She expressed bewilderment when trying to sum up reasons for the attack that was so brutal that, according to Keenan, Miles’ mother could not even recognize her son.

“I mean, this is really the unthinkable. That an honor student could be steps from his home – steps from his grandmother’s home – and be beaten to a point where he is unrecognizable to his own family,” said Keenan.

NAACP Philadelphia branch President Jerry Mondesire believes that criminal charges need to be brought against the officers in order for justice to be served.

“We want the three police officers prosecuted. Not to have a civil case only, but to have a criminal prosecution to send a message that there’s equal justice in Allegheny County,” Mondesire said in an ABC interview.

Keenan agrees with Mondesire that the situation requires a trial with a jury in order for the community to see that justice will be served.

“Justice has no color,” said Keenan.

In the civil lawsuit brought by Miles, the city of Pittsburgh has offered to settle his case on more than one occasion.

According to ABC reports, Miles and his family have turned down all offers, including the last settlement offer of $180,000.
M. Gayle Moss, of the NAACP Pittsburgh branch, explained in an interview that Miles and his family want more than just a monetary award.

“Just to take money? They want the truth that this young man was beaten, and he shouldn’t have been because he wasn’t doing anything,” said Moss.

The officers involved in the attack were on administrative leave pending the federal investigation and have recently been reinstated back into the department. Representatives from the Pittsburgh Police Department could not be reached for a comment.


Ashley Crawford

Special to the AFRO