Pittsburgh: Jury clears 1 officer, deadlocks on other in shooting trial

In this Sept. 26, 2017 photo, Leon Ford arrives in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh police officer Andrew Miller was cleared of assault and battery allegations but a jury deadlocked on whether a second officer, David Derbish, violated a driver's civil rights when he shot Ford as his car sped away from a traffic stop with the officer still inside, a jury ruled Tuesday, Oct. 10. (Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

By JOE MANDAK,  Associated Press  PITTSBURGH (AP) 10/10 — A jury cleared one Pittsburgh police officer of assault allegations Tuesday but deadlocked on whether another officer violated a man’s civil rights when he shot him as the man’s car sped away from a traffic stop with the officer still inside.

Jurors returned the partial verdict a couple hours after returning from a three-day weekend. The 10-member jury of two men and eight women had told the judge Friday they were deadlocked in the lawsuit filed by 24-year-old Leon Ford, who is black, against white officers David Derbish and Andrew Miller.

The judge instructed the jury, which had no black members, to continue deliberating in the civil rights trial held amid concerns about black men nationwide being shot by officers in recent years.

The split verdict means Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen must schedule another trial focused solely on Ford’s claim that Derbish used excessive force. The jury cleared Miller of Ford’s assault and battery claims.

“I am confident that the truth will come out again the next time a jury hears my case,” Ford said in a statement issued by his attorneys after the verdict. “The police pulled me over for no reason, mistook me for someone else and shot me. Before they shot me, they cursed at me, threatened and tortured me as if I was less than human. They claimed they saw a gun on me that did not exist.”

Fred Rabner, one of Ford’s attorneys, said Ford will be “better off” at the retrial the judge hopes to schedule for early next year because, “the focus will be laser sharp on Derbish.”

Derbish and Miller walked briskly from the courtroom after the verdict, and their defense team declined to comment.

The November 2012 shooting left Ford a paraplegic who must use a catheter six times a day and clear his bowels manually, Rabner had told the jury. For also was left without any sexual function, he said.

Rabner had argued Ford was the victim of three “rogue cops” — Derbish, Miller, and Miller’s partner, Michael Kosko, who initiated the traffic stop. The judge dismissed claims against Kosko before trial because he wasn’t involved in the struggle that led Derbish to shoot Ford.

The officers’ attorney, Paul Krepps, defended their actions, saying they were forced to make quick decisions during the 15-minute traffic stop and that Derbish shot Ford during a frantic seven-second interval when Ford’s car drove forward as Miller stood outside the driver’s side door and Derbish knelt on the front passenger seat, trying to tug a reluctant Ford from the car.

Ford testified he was frightened of the officers because they insisted he was Lamont Ford Jr., a wanted gang member of about the same age and build, whose appearance the officers claimed was “strikingly similar” to Leon Ford’s.

Rabner ridiculed that notion, noting Lamont and Leon had different skin tones, head and ear shapes. He suggested Ford was treated differently — even though he was polite and immediately produced his driver’s license, registration and insurance card — because he was stopped in a predominantly black neighborhood with a high crime rate.

Derbish wasn’t involved in the initial stop, but was called to the scene by Miller, who knew Derbish had past dealings with Lamont Ford.

When Derbish arrived, he couldn’t be sure if the officers had stopped Leon or Lamont Ford, and became alarmed when he claimed to see a non-descript bulge in Ford’s sweat pants. The officers contends that’s what prompted them to try to pull Ford from the car so he could be frisked; Rabner has argued it was an after-the-fact ruse cooked up by the officers to excuse their mistaken identity problem and other policy violations — including when Derbish got into Ford’s car to pull him out.

As Miller tugged on Ford from the driver’s side, Derbish shot Ford when the car suddenly sped forward. Rabner contends the car was inadvertently knocked into gear during the struggle, though Krepps and the officers contend Ford tried to escape.

https://www.apnews.com/93fced8394e54ebf8fbaff6e4012f7fc/Jury-clears-1-officer,-deadlocks-on-other-in-shooting-trial

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Posted in: Acquittals, Assault, Civilian Complaints, Courts & Trials, Exonerations, Lawsuits, Misconduct/Abuse of Authority, Officer Safety, Police Brutality/Abuse of Authority, Racial Issues, Use of Deadly Force

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × 4 =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.