The Thin Blue Whine, Pittsburgh Edition

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Pittsburgh, which is under a state of emergency in anticipation of weekend flooding, might witness an outbreak of the “Blue Flu,” an epidemic of militant petulance  resulting in a mass “sick-out” by police.

As has been the case elsewhere, the Pittsburgh plague is an acute reaction by tax-engorged union police to what they consider an intolerable affront: A judge recently dismissed spurious criminal charges against 18-year-old Jordan Miles, who was beaten by police on January 12.

While walking to visit his grandma,  Miles, an honor student at a the nearby CAPA high school, was swarmed and beaten by three undercover street cops with the Pittsburgh Police Department.

The assailants claimed to have seen a “heavy object” in the young man’s coat that they suspected was a weapon; it proved to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. Miles fled after the attackers demanded money and drugs; after he slipped and fell, he was beaten, kicked, and mauled so severely that he thought he was going to die.

As is usually the case when an innocent person suffers a criminal assault by police — and as is always the case when the innocent person tries to protect himself — Miles was hit with several contrived criminal charges, including “aggravated assault” (meaning that he made physical contact at some point with one of the consecrated beings who attacked him), resisting arrest (which is not a crime, but a common law right), “loitering,” and “prowling.”

The last two charges were products of undisguised perjury. Monica Wooding, the resident who was supposedly the victim of Miles’s intrusion, contradicted the affidavit filed by the cops who assaulted the young man, telling District Judge Oscar Petite Jr. that she had never told the police that she didn’t know Miles and had denied him permission to be on his property. This led Judge Petite to dismiss all of the charges against Miles.

Judge Petite’s courtroom was packed with police officers when the decision was announced. One of them, Chuck Hanlon of the local Fraternal Order of Police, declared that his tax-feeder union would “lobby the district attorney pretty hard to refile those charges” against Miles.

Attorney Bill Diffenderfer, who represented the subsidized thugs who beat Miles, seized on a trivial scheduling anomaly as a pretext for demanding a second hearing. Judge Jim Motznik was scheduled to hear the case on March 4, rather than Judge Petite. However, Judge Petite had been slated to hear the case weeks earlier before it was postponed — because the officers failed to appear at the hearing.

In other words, the case was heard by the same judge originally scheduled to hear it. Yet Diffenderfer insinuated that Judge Petite’s action in hearing a case assigned to him suggested that the judge — rather than the police assailants, who didn’t attend the earlier hearing — was acting out of corrupt motives.

“I certainly hope the district attorney … looks into this and does the right thing, re-files the charges in front of a magistrate who has absolutely no interest and is not a magistrate who’s asking to hear the case,” a theatrically outraged Diffenderfer told a the local CBS affiliate.

In keeping with standard practice, Miles’s assailants are on paid vacation while the department pretends to conduct an official inquiry. The city council, under pressure from understandably outraged city residents, is exploring a package of proposed “reforms,” some of which would include “racial sensitivity” training that would exacerbate tensions while doing nothing to address the problem of police impunity.

Not content to prolong the legal torment of an innocent teenager who already suffered a severe beating, the police union is seeking to capitalize on a potential crisis by way of a staged “sick-out” by officers who take inconsolable offense at the thought that there may be professional and legal consequences for beating innocent people on the street.

5:14 pm on March 11, 2010
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