A SHOW OF SUPPORT—Friends, family and members of the community showed support for Leon Ford Jr. at a rally on Oct. 16 at the City-County Building, downtown. From left: Attorney Benjamin Crump; Latonya Green, mother; Ford; Leon Ford Sr., father, and attorney Monte Rabner. (Photos by J.L. Martello)
Family, friends and community members showed up in numbers to the Allegheny County Courthouse for a rally held Oct. 16 to show their support for then Pittsburgh teen Leon Ford Jr., who was shot multiple times by a Pittsburgh Police officer during what many say should have been a “routine” traffic stop and to show their outrage for the criminal charges he still faces.
The rally was held before a requested hearing to dismiss the charges against Ford, which are reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, and escape, which was added just before the morning’s proceedings.
FATHER AND SON—Leon Ford Jr. holds his son, Leon Ford VI.
“We are standing up for Leon because the Pittsburgh police paralyzed my son and now he cannot stand up for himself and will never walk again,” said Latonya Green, Ford’s mother.
According to police, on Nov. 11, 2012 Ford was pulled over on Stanton Avenue in Highland Park due to traffic violations. He gave them his license and registration, and after verifying it, officers began to question his identity and asked him to step out of the vehicle, but they said Ford refused and began moving his hand as if he was reaching for something. That’s when officer David Derbish, who was monitoring the passenger side of the vehicle, opened the door of the vehicle and reached in to grab Ford’s hand. They said Ford then began to drive off, and to avoid being dragged the officer jumped in the passenger’s side demanding Ford stop and Ford began to try and push him out of the vehicle. The officer then fired several shots, hitting Ford in the chest three times. Ford’s vehicle then crashed into a cement retaining wall and he was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. No weapon or substances were found on Ford or in the vehicle.
The rally was attended by many, including attorney Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who represented the family of Florida teen, Trayvon Martin, who addressed the crowd by saying, “We come here this morning seeking justice and to see if the court is going to continue to let the Police of Pittsburgh perpetuate a fallacy. It is a fallacy because they profiled Leon Ford Jr., they paralyzed Leon Ford Jr. and they were wrong on every level.” He added, “The police officers broke their own policies and procedures and hoped he died, but thank God, he lived.”
A few of the policies Crump referred to are not checking the validity of Ford’s information first, but instead running his name and information for a criminal history; not wearing audio, which is Pittsburgh police procedure, but leaving it in the vehicle; and reaching into the vehicle, which goes against training.