Judge won't dismiss charges of assaulting Pittsburgh police officer

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PITTSBURGH - A Shaler man will continue to fight charges of assaulting a Pittsburgh police officer during a traffic stop in Highland Park.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen on Monday denied Leon Ford's request that the charges be dismissed. Ford is scheduled for a jury trial Sept. 2.

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.

Ford's lawyer Fred Rabner argued that Officer David Derbish intentionally failed to activate his in-car video camera and that now-retired Officer Michael Kosko intentionally failed to wear his lapel microphone during the traffic stop.

Ford, 20, was left paralyzed from the waist down when Derbish shot him in the chest four times in November 2012. Ford, who uses a wheelchair, is charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and several traffic offenses.

Police said that on the day of the shooting, they spotted a silver Infiniti speeding on Larimer Avenue and followed it until the driver failed to stop completely at a stop sign at Meadow and St. Marie streets. They stopped the car at Stanton Avenue and Farragut Street in Highland Park.

While officers were confirming Ford's identity, Derbish noticed a bulge on Ford's leg and thought he was armed with a gun, police said.

Police say Ford ignored an order to get out of the car, so they tried to remove him. During the ensuing struggle, Derbish entered the car through the passenger side and ended up inside as it moved away. Derbish said Ford struck him several times and tried to push him out of the car before he opened fire.

Ford in September filed a federal lawsuit against Derbish, Kosko, the city, former police Chief Nate Harper, acting Chief Regina McDonald and another police officer.

Jury selection in that case is scheduled for Aug. 21. Attorneys expect the trial to last less than a week.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.