Neighbors talk about crushed hedges, blood while testifying in Jordan Miles case

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PITTSBURGH - Two neighbors of a young black man who claims he was wrongfully arrested and beaten by three while Pittsburgh police officers say they saw braids in broken down hedges near their home.

The testimony by Jordan Miles' neighbors appears to contradict his version of the events in January 2010 in which he says the officers pulled the braids from his head.

Attorneys for the three officers, two of whom are expected to testify later Monday, have argued Miles' hair snagged on the bush when he was tackled by police. The officers say they acted appropriately, believing Miles was a prowler with a gun.

Patricia Coleman said she was in bed when she heard someone yelling the night of Jan. 12, 2010, but she didn't look outside to see what was happening.

"I heard 'help' and like a yelp," she said.

She said she also saw blood near the hedges the next morning.

Miles, 20, claims that officers Michael Saldutte, David Sisak and Richard Ewing violated his civil rights and inflicted permanent brain damage when they arrested him. He testified earlier in the civil trial that the entire arrest occurred in the yard next door to Coleman's.

The officers deny violating his rights or inflicting any permanent injury. They claim that Miles attempted to flee when being questioned about his suspicious behavior in a high-crime neighborhood and that his injuries were mainly caused by crashing head-first through the hedges and into Coleman's yard.

Coleman said after leaving the witness stand that it was a relief to finish her part of the trial.

"Yes, it is," she said.

A-ron Roberts, her son, testified that he heard noise coming from the front of the house next door, and also saw the blood, hair and crushed hedges. Roberts, 18, is a longtime friend of Miles who was subpoenaed by the officers.

Roberts testified in the more than seven years he said he's known Miles that he never heard him talk about committing a crime or saw him being disrespectful to someone in authority.

Roberts said afterward he doesn't know much about the case and wasn't sure why the officers subpoenaed him.

"I just want to let everything be right," he said.

Lawyers for both sides anticipate the trial going to the jury by the end of the week. The city has already settled Miles' claim against it for $75,000, but as part of the agreement would pay any damages assessed against the officers if the jury finds for Miles.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.