Jury selection to begin in case of man paralyzed during Pittsburgh stop

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Jury selection begins today for a Shaler man who was paralyzed after being shot while attempting to flee a traffic stop nearly two years ago.

Leon D. Ford, 21, is charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and related counts stemming from the stop in Larimer the night of Nov. 11, 2012.

During a brief hearing Wednesday, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning issued a gag order in the case, citing a rally on behalf of Mr. Ford in East Liberty on Tuesday night, in which three protesters were arrested.

“I’m not going to imperil jury selection with pretrial publicity,” the judge said.

Mr. Ford was driving in Larimer when Pittsburgh officers attempted a traffic stop for speeding and failing to stop at several stop signs. While he was pulled over on the side of the road, the officers debated whether the person they stopped was actually Lamont Ford, another person who had previously been arrested for firearms charges.

According to a police car dashboard camera that recorded the incident, when officers ordered Leon Ford out of the car, he refused. One officer can be seen tugging on his arm from the driver’s side window, and then another officer, David Derbish, can be seen climbing into the front passenger seat.

The car then shifted into gear and quickly pulled away. Within three seconds, five shots can be heard. Mr. Ford was shot multiple times and paralyzed.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Manning ordered defense attorney Fred Rabner to turn over to assistant district attorney Robert Schupansky any expert reports he plans to use at trial by Monday. Mr. Rabner must also provide a list of character witnesses he plans to call on Mr. Ford’s behalf.

In previous motions, Mr. Rabner repeatedly asked for the charges against his client to be dismissed. Among the stated reasons, he cited a report by the Pittsburgh police Critical Incident Review Board, which found that the officers involved in the incident failed to follow protocol in Mr. Ford’s traffic stop.

The report, which Mr. Rabner received in discovery in the criminal case, was filed as an attachment earlier this week to a motion in U.S. District Court related to a civil lawsuit Mr. Ford has filed against the city and officers.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published August 20, 2014 12:50 PM


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