1 officer cleared in Ford civil suit; 2nd officer gets new trial

1 officer cleared in Ford civil suit; 2nd officer gets new trial

A federal judge will set a new trial date in Leon Ford's civil lawsuit against the officer who shot and paralyzed him during a traffic stop in 2012 after a jury cleared another officer in that incident on Tuesday.

The judge said that will happen early next year.

Supporters offered handshakes and words of support for Ford as he left the courthouse after a jury cleared Pittsburgh police Officer Andrew Miller of civil rights violations and deadlocked in the excessive force case against Officer Dave Derbish.

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The violent confrontation was caught on police video. Derbish fired five shots as he and Ford scuffled inside the car as it pulled away during the traffic stop in Highland Park. Ford claims the car was inadvertently knocked into gear.

“There is nothing reasonable about what those officers did to Leon,” said Fred Rabner, Ford’s attorney. “We are not at all surprised about the decision regarding Officer Miller. Officer Derbish is wholly responsible for causing the harm to Leon and his lifelong injuries.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Ford issued a scathing statement about the trial and the officers.


"From the time I woke up in a hospital bed with a bullet lodged in my spine through today, my family and I have known the truth about what happened the Night of November 11th, 2012. These officers also knew the truth, and it is evident with their many attempts to cover up the fact that they made a huge mistake.
"I feel validated by the undeniable truth this process has revealed. I've known and maintained this truth for five years. And I am confident that the truth will come out again the next time a jury hears my case.
"The Police pulled me over for no reason, mistook me for someone else and shot me. Before they shot me, they cursed at me, threatened and tortured me as if I was less than human. They claimed they saw a gun on me that did not exist. Nothing on my body or in my car could even have been mistaken for a weapon. As I lay in a puddle of my blood, they desperately hoped that I would die.
"It is unfortunate that I had to sit in a lengthy criminal trial with my freedom on the line. Listening as I heard the same officers who shot me and hoped that I would die, swear under oath, intentionally misleading a jury to get a conviction. It is just as tragic that I sat in Federal Court for nearly four weeks witnessing the same officers, and even expert witnesses hired by the city, mislead the jury once again. And It is regrettable that society continues to send a message that shoddy police work is acceptable.
"My case is one of unreasonable police work, and after sitting through two lengthy trials, I not only question the character, integrity, and leadership of these policemen, but I also question the morality of many leaders who are aware of the facts of this case and continue to ignore the problem. I look forward more now than ever to continuing my work to improve police-community interactions, spurring fruitful dialogue and concentrating on healing and progress in regards to policing in America.
"I also look forward to having a productive meeting with Mayor Bill Peduto and his Chief of Staff, Kevin Acklin, who made promises to me personally about his commitment to assist me as an agent of change."

Peduto issued this statement this afternoon:

"Nothing, including this suit, could ever erase the tragic circumstances Mr. Ford, the officers and their families have been through the past five years. Obviously it has caused great concern among the greater Pittsburgh community as well."

“We feel we have convinced many of the jurors, we just didn't convince them all,” Rabner said. “We will rectify that and we will come back stronger.”