September 24, 2014

Day 3 reflections: Jordan’s grandmother observes, “It was like he’d come back from war.”

By Helen Gerhardt

“The next thing I heard was my daughter screaming, ‘Oh my god, oh my god….look what they did to my son!’

Ms. Patricia Porter, grandmother of Jordan Miles was bearing witness to what she had observed when she and her daughter, Terez Miles, mother of Jordan Miles, had gone to pick up the eighteen year old man from jail after a day and night of deep worry, of trying to find out where he was and what had happened to him.

“My daughter is not normally a very emotional person,” Ms. Porter said, “…but, she was hysterical, crying. My granddaughter also started crying hysterically…I did not look at my grandson…I knew by their reaction that I would not be able to drive if I did.”

Only after they got to Shadyside hospital would his grandmother allow herself to look at his injuries, documented photographically here at this website – the entire right side of his face was swollen beyond any recognition of the young man who had left her house for CAPA High School the morning before.

Ms. Porter testified that she took her grandson to numerous doctors over the next weeks and months: ophthalmologist for the eye hemorrhage, skin specialist for the scalp from which his dreadlocks had been ripped, orthopedist, physical therapist…and for the traumas which did not show up on the outer surfaces, she took him to a psychologist and psychiatrist.

“Yes, … he wasn’t like himself at all. He was withdrawn…wasn’t able to sleep, he had recurring dreams. And he had problems with memory. That really surfaced with his school. He wasn’t able to concentrate. He wasn’t able to complete the things he was given to do. He wasn’t able to do what he had been able to do previously…It was as though he had come back from war.”

And Ms. Porter testified that when Jordan when to college at the Pitt Bradford campus, he had found his traumatic memories coming back to haunt him.

“There was some kind of disturbance across the hall [at his dorm.] The police were called. It upset him so badly, the incident raised up such memories…he withdrew from there.”

Only in the last months, Ms. Porter said, had Jordan seemed to open up again, only lately had he been able to share what he’d been through with his family.

Such patterns described by Ms. Porter fit classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/ds00246/dsection=symptoms.

PTSD is indeed very often suffered by military veterans. As this case demonstrates, all too often the relationships between police and the public that they are sworn to protect and serve may too closely resemble warfare, as brutal force and fear  combine to break down all communication and safety.