More than a week ago Leon Ford’s life changed forever due to a police stop over a traffic violation. It was the evening of Nov. 18 that 19-year-old Ford was shot by Pittsburgh police during what many are saying should have been a “routine” traffic stop that ended with a citation and not multiple shots to the chest.
“We are absolutely concerned about the incident,” said Tim Stevens, chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project and co-founder of the Coalition Against Violence. “At least on the surface it looks to have been an inappropriate shooting. We will be following up and discussing it (the incident).”
Ford was reportedly pulled over by police for a traffic violation, near Stanton Avenue in the Highland Park area of the city. Authorities say after verifying his information, they began to question him and asked him to step out of the vehicle. They say Ford refused their command and began to move his right hand, as if reaching for something. The officer monitoring the passenger side, observed the movement, opened the door and reached in. Ford then allegedly began to drive off, causing the officer, David Derbish, to then jump into the vehicle. They say the officer commanded Ford to stop but he continued to drive while dragging the officer and trying to push him out of the car. The officer then reportedly shot four times, striking Ford in the chest at least three times. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Derbish was treated for his injuries and placed on leave. Ford is facing numerous charges.
LaTonya Green, Ford’s mother, said her son is doing better and that he is improving, which is a blessing. Although she still is not commenting on the incident, she said she is able to see her son whenever she would like, which she was not previously able to do. At a press conference held days after the shooting, Green pleaded for police to let her see her son, which authorities said was against procedure, since Ford was in their custody.
As for where the case is now, Diane Richard, public information officer and spokesperson for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, said the incident is still under investigation and that the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police are conferring with the District Attorney’s Office to review this incident.
It was verified that Ford did not have a weapon during the stop, but it is still unknown specifically what traffic violation Ford was stopped for.
Many in the community are calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into the incident.
“Hopefully the mayor and the police administrators will share a commitment to get to the bottom of what happened,” Stevens said.
He added that the police need to take a serious look at what happened and if it is found to have been an inappropriate shooting, then the officer needs to be punished and the city needs to examine the policies of the police.