Judge won't dismiss charges against defendant paralyzed in police shooting

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A judge Monday denied a request to have charges dismissed against a man accused of assaulting a Pittsburgh police officer during a traffic stop in which the man was shot and paralyzed.

The attorney representing Leon Ford, 21, of Shaler, said he looks forward to having a trial “to vindicate Mr. Ford.”

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen at times told attorney Fred Rabner that his arguments were “very creative” but that many of the issues he raised were best left for a jury to decide. A jury trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 2, with jury selection slated for Aug. 21.

Mr. Ford was paralyzed after Pittsburgh police opened fire Nov. 11, 2012, during a traffic stop in Highland Park. Officers charged him with aggravated assault, resisting arrest and other crimes after police said he refused to answer questions and threw the car into drive while an officer attempted to stop him.

Mr. Rabner asked the judge to dismiss the charges and to impose sanctions.

He said Officer David

Derbish failed to activate his in-car camera and that another officer, Michael Kosko, who is now retired, failed to activate his lapel microphone.

Mr. Rabner argued that because of that failure, a full video record of the event does not exist and that orders to preserve material were put in 31 days after the incident, while files typically are preserved for 30 days.

The judge told Mr. Rabner that it is not clear why the delay occurred and so it did not qualify as grounds for dismissal.

The microphone system, Mr. Rabner said, was designed "to protect the officers as well as the citizens" and because Officer Kosko did not activate his microphone "the jury will be robbed of that."

The judge told Mr. Rabner that if he was implying that the officer attempted to "subvert something ... that is going to be the jury's discretion."

Mr. Ford has also filed a federal lawsuit against the city, three officers involved in the incident, acting Chief Regina McDonald and former Chief Nate Harper.

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1438. First Published July 28, 2014 12:00 AM

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