PITTSBURGH - A man who was shot by police during a traffic stop in November faced a preliminary hearing Thursday.
According to police, Leon Ford, 19, allegedly refused to cooperate with officers and drove off after a traffic stop. Fearing he would be dragged away, one officer jumped into the car and then reportedly fired after Ford resisted and refused orders to stop.
Ford’s attorney, Fred Rabner, said the police dashboard camera video could be used to help his case.
Rabner said his client was stopped for an alleged minor traffic infraction, and then questioned for 20 minutes in the middle of Stanton Avenue. Rabner called the interrogation a profiling stop.
“He stopped instantly. He put his turn signal on and he provided them his identification,” Rabner said.
The criminal complaint said officer David Derbish said he feared the driver was reaching for a gun. He said two officers were in front of the driver’s side door, and he feared for their safety so he jumped in the car.
According to Rabner, none of the officers were ever in danger.
“Officer Kosko is never in a position where he’s in front of the vehicle. In fact, he’s in the position where he’s in the open doorway of the vehicle such that if the vehicle moved forward it would simply go forward without striking him at all,” Rabner said.
Rabner said Ford panicked when the three officers tried to pull him out of the car.
Ford appeared in court Friday in a wheelchair, as he continues to recover from injuries sustained in the incident.
“By all medical evidence so far it appears that Leon Ford is going to live the rest of his life as a paraplegic,” Rabner said.