By Nigel Parry
Yesterday, Jordan’s legal team wrapped up with the testimony of James L. Kenkel, University of Pittsburgh economics professor who was called on to assess earnings loss due to Jordan’s persistent injuries.
First defense witness, Officer David C. Wright
Assigned to training camp in 1999, trains police officers in use of force, defensive tactics, and physical fitness. Comes off as a G.I. Joe character with his buzzcut and demeanor. Wright explained the Continuum of Control AKA Force Continuum AKA Use of Force Continuum, and helped draft the Pittsburgh Police’s regulations concerning use of force.
Continuum of Control
Level 1 – Officer Presence
Level 2 – Verbal Directions
Level 3 – Restraint and Control
Level 4 – Impact Devices
Level 5 – Deadly Force
At the point he discussed Level 3, Wright introduced the TASER. Effusively and animatedly speaking about “the beauty of the TASER”, Wright took out an actual TASER in the courtroom, concerning the judge, who required an explanation of whether the device was active or not. Wright subsequently totally freaked out a jury member—who visibly jumped in the jury box—when Wright pressed the trigger and the device crackled loudly. It was a predictable result, and an example of the police cloddishness and heavy-handedness that brought us into this courtroom in the first place. The sense of entitlement emanating from the defense lawyers is palatable. Police officers resent having to explain themselves and their actions.
More on different levels of subject resistance, also from the Pittsburgh Police regulations:
Levels of Subject Action/Resistance
Level 1 – Body Language/Psychological Resistance
Level 2 – Verbal Noncompliance
Level 3 – Passive Resistance
Level 4 – Defensive Resistance
Level 5 – Active Aggression
Level 6 – Deadly Force
Conflict of interest?
Wright was the police officer that the Office of Municipal Investigations (OMI, the City of Pittsburgh’s internal affairs bureau) asked to review the reports on the Jordan Miles incident.
Helen Gerhardt reported that Jordan’s lawyer, J. Kerrington Lewis, tried to establish that a normal procedure for assessing use of force was not followed. Wright only received the Offense Report and the Subject Resistance Report from the police officers. He conceded that he did not receive copies of Jordan’s interview, or of anyone else who witnessed any aspect of the incident or its aftermath.
Kerrington Lews asked “Don’t you want to have statements of all parties involved made under oath in the OMI report?”
Wright affirmed, “The more information I have the better,” stating that he usually also received at least the reports of the “complaintant or civilian at hand” as well as police reports. ”But in this case, my immediate supervisor [Lt. Karen Dixon of Zone 5] asked me to go ahead and make an early assessment.”
But most interestingly, David Wright is a good friend of Michael Saldutte, with whom he has traveled around the country to compete in martial arts tournaments, and also knows Richard Ewing with whom he is Facebook Friends.
Wright owns Wright’s Gym in Pittsburgh, a well-known spot where police go to work out and train. Michael Saldutte is a trainer there, and has a bio on the gym’s website:
- Veteran Police Officer
- Outstanding athlete and football player (Bethel Park High School & Westminster College)
- Certified Police Defensive Tactics Instructor and Firearms Instructor
- Certified Krav Maga Worldwide Instructor
- Awards and competitive in powerlifting and submission wrestling
David Wright’s own bio on the site says:
- Owner Wright’s Gym & Krav Maga Pittsburgh
- Veteran Police Officer
- Honorable Discharge, US ARMY
- Master Fitness Trainer (US Army School of Physical Fitness), Certified Personal Trainer (Cooper Institute) Certified Martial Arts Instructor/Specialist (ACMA), Master Instructor- Police Defensive Tactics & Taser, Instructor- Firearms, Verbal Judo, & OC pepper spray. Certified Krav Maga Worldwide Instructor & Force Training Instructor, Instructor graduate of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Gracie Combatives for Law Enforcement
- Numerous awards and championships in bodybuilding, powerlifting and combat sports.
It was David Wright who trained Michael Saldutte to be a Krav Maga instructor.
Admitting the conflict of interest?
Don Carpenter and Helen Gerhardt report that in 2011, Wright testified said he would never testify against the City of Pittsburgh because he is employed by them and it “would be a conflict of interest”. Wright reviews all use of force cases in the city.
DAY 8, VIDEO UPDATE 1, 1:15PM
DAY 8, VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH TIM STEVENS, 12:30PM
The Rustbelt Team
1:40pm, one of the defendants, officer Michael Saldutte, testifies
Saldutte is trying to project innocence, the way he describes his actions on the night of 12 January 2010, you’d think we were hearing an ideal situation described in a police training manual. His version of events has him catching a 2-second glance out of the car window at Miles leaning up against a house, with his back to Saldutte. This was apparently enough for Saldutte to have the car make a U Turn to come back to check on Miles a second time.
The cross-examination by Jordan’s lawyer J. Kerrington Lewis, was contentious at times, with objections from the defense attorney as Lewis repeatedly confronted Saldutte about problems with his original affidavit that has no mention of Jordan having a gun.
Helen Gerhardt reports:
Police officer Michael Saldutte grew up in Bethel Park, PA, graduated from Westminster College in the spring of 2005 with a degree in history. He attended the Pittsburgh police academy for six months, from fall of 2005 to late spring of 2006. He received three months of field training in Zones 3, 5, and 1 alongside veteran officers, then was assigned to Zone 5 [which includes Homewood, where Jordan Miles and his family live.]
Saldutte began as a uniformed patrol officer, responding to 911 calls. He was then assigned to work “the 99 car,” working directly for the commander in plainclothes detail in an unmarked car to work on specific cases or patterns of problems such as a rash of homicides, car break-ins, spray painting.” Duties are often decided by the commander from day to day. The 99 cars don’t usually respond to 911 calls, but may sometimes be called in for back up.
The night of the incident with Jordan in January of 2012, Saldutte had been assigned to the 99 car detail for approximately four or five months, he thought since August of 2009, always in plainclothes detail. Shifts usually began around 6-7pm and ended around 2-3am. He remembers no specific instructions for that night, in Homewood, categorized at level 1 for crime rates and types, with a higher rate of murders, rapes, thefts, etc. “We’d just be on a general patrol, looking for any type of criminal activity.”
There were three officers in the Chevy Monte Carlo, a two-door vehicle. Ewing was driving, Saldutte was in the front passenger seat, Sisak was in the back. They had a red light siren up by the rearview mirror. The had hand-held Motorola radios, approximately three inches wide and 8 inches tall, with antenna, with all stations for the city. The first three channels are police, then the driver’s license call in channel, then medical [EMT.] Each officer had their own radio.
That night, Saldutte remembers temperatures in the teens or high single digits, with unplowed snow on both street and sidewalk. They were cruising, probably about 15 mile an hour, when Saldutte reports seeing a person “tucked up against the side of the house.” When asked by his attorney why he could see through tinted windows, he replied that he had his window down about halfway. “There were no lights on, no porch lights like someone had just come out. I saw him for about a second or two…” then, he said, the brush on the property line blocked his sight line.
Saldutte reported Ewing as replying either something like, “What’s he doing?” or “I got him” – seeming to indicate that he had also had a brief glimpse of the reported figure, which Saldutte believed was trying to hide. They drove only a four to five houses further, then swung around in an almost full U-turn. [This positioning of the car at the beginning of the encounter is the beginning of divergence from the Jordan Miles account in which he first saw the officers' stationary car facing him, parked up the street in the direction he was walking as he made his way back to his grandmother's house from his mother's address.] Saldutte continued, “Ewing was slowing down as we were coming up [to 1740 Tioga]…as we approached, a male was walking up the driveway alongside a Jeep…on the Jeep side of the house…coming to a stop…looked like he wasn’t paying attention. As he looked up, he put his hand in his pocket. As we were coming to a stop, I was getting out of the car…I believe Ewing said, ‘Pittsburgh Police.’ I stood and said, ‘Pittsburgh Police,’…held up my badge and said, take your hands out of your pocket.”
Saldutte asserts that he held his badge above the roof of the car.
[court notes to be expanded.]
[more court notes will be added later]