PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department has decided not pursue criminal charges against three white Pittsburgh police officers in connection with the beating of a black teenage arts student, the department announced Wednesday.
The department said in a statement that it was closing an investigation into the Jan. 12, 2010, beating of 18-year-old Jordan Miles, a violist who attended the city's prestigious Creative and Performing Arts High School.
The agency investigated Miles' claims that the officers targeted him simply because he was a young black male walking in a high-crime area, but said there was insufficient evidence to prove the officers violated civil rights statutes.
U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton called it a "difficult and troubling case."
"The public, understandably, has many questions regarding what occurred," he said.
But "In order to prevail in court on a criminal civil rights charge, the government must prove that the law enforcement officer willfully deprived a person of a federally protected right," Hickton said in the statement. "I have concluded that the evidence in this case will not support the heavy burden of a criminal charge against the officers."
Miles said the officers beat him without provocation, then concocted a story that he was acting suspiciously to justify the confrontation. They charged Miles with trespassing and claimed he had a gun, but later said it turned out to be a soda bottle. Miles denies having either. Miles was cleared of any criminal charges, and his attorney said he's passed a lie detector test.
Miles' attorney, J. Kerrington Lewis, said the Justice Department informed him and his client of its decision not to pursue charges. He said he's disappointed. A lawsuit is pending.
``We're disappointed that it's not going to go further. We think that there's clearly evidence to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt,'' Lewis said. ``There's plenty of evidence and a jury should hear it. And they should decide who's telling the truth, Jordan or the cops.''
The officers denied any wrongdoing. A spokeswoman for the city police said the police department was awaiting results from an independent internal investigation and had no comment.