HELPING HANDS—Two unidentified men carry Leon Ford Jr. down the steps in his wheel chair, after a traffic stop with Pittsburgh Police that left him paralyzed.
While many of those who attended the rally could not enter the courtroom, they did stand outside and wait, letting their support be known. Adrienne Young, founder of Tree of Hope, said, “We are standing behind this young man. This behavior is emblematic of what they’ve (police) been doing to our young Black men. Our hope is that this can unravel and that the truth is exposed and these officers are brought to justice so that all the young Black men will receive justice.” She added, “The whole city and community are standing with him (Ford). Though he might not be able to stand, we will stand with him and for him.”
Judge Donald Machen decided to delay his ruling and give the defense more time to present their case. He gave them thirty days to submit a brief explaining their claim of how officers created a zone of danger in this case.
“It’s a first step and equivalent to fighting with your hands behind your back and winning the case,” Fred Rabner, Ford’s attorney, said in a statement after the hearing. “Our story is yet to come out and when it does it will be devastating to the prosecution’s case.”
One of the defense’s key pieces of evidence is the dash cam video of the stop. Prior to its viewing in the Oct. 16 proceedings, a community viewing was held the previous day at the Community Empowerment Association’s facility in Homewood.
“It’s obvious to anyone (who has seen the video), he (Ford) was held 20-25 minutes, he provided all the information they asked and he had no warrants on him or the vehicle. The stop was longer and there was no justification for that shooting— he had no weapon and he didn’t try to run over anyone,” said Rashad Byrdsong, CEA founder and CEO. “We would like to see the charges dropped and for those police officers to be brought upon charges of assault.”
Byrdsong said that negative incidents like Ford’s seem to be ongoing in the relationship Pittsburgh police have with the Black community, especially Black men, and that his organization has made several attempts to address these issue through community efforts, but that it’s time for the police to make some effort.
Along with a dismissal of charges against Ford, Crump and the community are asking for charges to be filed against the officers. “We ask the district attorney to look at the statements and affidavits of the police. This young man is fighting for his life. This is not fair to Leon Ford,” he said.
A federal lawsuit was filed in September against the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, officers Derbish, Andrew Miller and former Pittsburgh police officer Michael Kosko, former police chief Nate Harper and acting police chief Regina McDonald accusing them of using excessive force, unlawful search and seizure and violation of due process.
The judge’s ruling is expected in two months.
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