Though she removed the City of Pittsburgh and one of the officers involved from the case, U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly has ruled Leon Ford can pursue his civil rights complaint against the officer who shot and paralyzed him, and another who tried to drag him from his car during a 2012 traffic stop.
Ford, of Shaler, was pulled over near Stanton Avenue and Farragut Street in Highland Park, Nov. 11, 2012, when officers mistakenly identified him as wanted felon Lamont Ford. Despite his producing all the proper ID, officers did not let him go. Officers David Derbish and Andrew Miller eventually tried to physically pull him from his car. Ford resisted, even after Derbish climbed into the passenger side door and tried to loosen his grip. During the struggle the car shifted into gear. Within seconds Derbish shot Ford five times.
Whether that using that level of force—shooting, and assault—was “reasonable,” or whether Derbish and Miller violated Ford’s civil rights, will now be up to a federal jury. Derbish had asked for a summary judgement in his favor, but Kelly denied it, saying the facts—such as whether Ford posed a threat, whether there was a bulge in his sweatpants that officers thought was a weapon, why Officer Derbish jumped into Ford’s car in violation of police policy and whether Ford was trying to flee when his car lurched forward—are in dispute.
“These should be resolved by a jury, not the court,” she said.