LEON FORD JR.
Evidence in the police-involved shooting of a Black teen is leaving many in the community with questions about the Nov. 11, 2012 traffic stop of Leon Ford Jr., a 19-year-old who was shot multiple times after he allegedly dragged a Pittsburgh police officer during the stop in Highland Park.
While the police footage of the stop, which was shown during a hearing in January, shows what happened, it was missing one crucial piece—the audio.
According to reports, audio during the stop was not taken. It can be heard prior to Kosko approaching the vehicle and after he returned to his police car to enter information into the computer. It also picks up the gunshots, but nothing during the exchange between he and Ford.
Pittsburgh Police policy, which was confirmed in an email by Lt. Kevin Kraus, of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, states that officers are required to wear the microphone when conducting a traffic stop. “Yes we do have policy that states that traffic stops must be recorded,” he said.
It is unknown as to why there was no audio. While there is a possibility that the microphone may have malfunctioned, there is also speculation that officer Kosko may have left the microphone in the vehicle.
When asked if disciplinary actions will be taken against officers Kosko and Derbish if found to have broke protocol, Kraus said, “This case is still under review by the District Attorney’s Office, as well as the police bureau’s Critical Incident Review Board. I am not able to release any information other than that we are internally investigating those issues…”
As for what this means to Ford’s case, attorney Fred Rabner, Ford’s counsel, was contacted several times, but failed to respond.
Ford still faces charges of aggravated assault, three counts of reckless endangerment and several driving offenses. A preliminary hearing is scheduled in March.
On the evening of Nov. 11, 2012, according to authorities, Ford, who is now paralyzed, was pulled over for a traffic violation at the intersection of Stanton Avenue and Farragut Street in Highland Park by Pittsburgh police officer Michael Kosko and another officer. After verifying Ford’s information, officers began to question him and asked him to step out of the vehicle, but he refused and began moving his hand as if he was reaching for something. That’s when officer David Derbish, an officer called for back up, opened the passenger door of the vehicle and reached in to grab Ford’s hand, which is reportedly against police procedure. They say Ford then began to drive off and to avoid being dragged the officer jumped in the passenger’s side demanding for Ford to stop and Ford began to try and push him out of the vehicle. The officer then fired several shots, hitting Ford in the chest. Ford’s vehicle then crashed into a cement retaining wall and he was taken to a local hospital.