Dueling Polygraphs in Pittsburgh Beating Case

Jordan Miles
Jordan Miles after police beating

Three Pittsburgh police officers who stand accused of wantonly beating 18-year-old honor student Jordan Miles have all passed lie detector tests. But Miles also passed a lie detector test regarding the incident. So whose lie detector is lying?

Jill King Greenwood reports for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Three Pittsburgh police officers accused of beating a Homewood teenager during a January arrest near his home passed polygraph tests over the weekend, the president of the police union said.

Officers David Sisak, Richard Ewing and Michael Saldutte took the tests from a private polygraph administrator at the same time that nearly 100 other city officers marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Downtown on Saturday wearing T-shirts in support of the three, who are on paid administrative leave while the city and FBI investigate the Jan. 12 incident.

“They have been telling the truth all along,” said Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 President Dan O’Hara. “They hesitated to take the tests only because they didn’t want to set the precedent so that every time an officer is accused of excessive force, people are calling for them to take a polygraph test.”

Jordan Miles, 18, an honors student at the Creative and Performing Arts High School, said the officers beat him. According to his attorney, Miles passed an FBI polygraph test last month.

Police filed assault and other charges against Miles, saying he ran from and then fought with them. Miles said he didn’t know the three decorated, plainclothes officers were police.

Earlier this month, District Judge Oscar Petite dismissed the criminal case against Miles. Last week, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he expected to release the results of the investigation into the incident sometime this week. Mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said nothing will be released today.

The fact is that lie detector results shed no light on this case one way or the other. To begin with, polygraphy has no scientific basis. It’s thoroughly discredited pseudoscience, and the results should never be relied upon for any purpose. Making matters worse, when lie detector tests are arranged by lawyers, as in the present cases case of these three police officers, the results are actually worse than worthless, because the only results that will ever be made public are those supporting the client’s innocence. The results of any failed polygraphs will be kept secret.

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