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Jury Begins Deliberations In Leon Ford Trial

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An-Li Herring
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Fred Rabner, an attorney for Leon Ford, leaves the federal courthouse in Pittsburgh October 3, 2017.

A jury began deliberations in Leon Ford’s federal civil trial against two Pittsburgh police officers following closing arguments Tuesday. The jury could deliver its verdict any day.

Arguments followed a two-week trial over officers David Derbish and Andrew Miller’s involvement in a 2012 shooting that left Ford paralyzed from the chest down.

Ford is suing Miller and Derbish for civil damages, with Derbish being tried for excessive force and Miller accused of assault and battery. There is no criminal case against the officers.

According to court documents, the shooting occurred after Miller and fellow officer Michael Kosko pulled Ford, then 19, over for traffic violations in Highland Park on Nov. 11, 2012. Miller and Kosko, who are white, suspected Leon Ford of being Lamont Ford, who was also African-American and had an active warrant at the time.

The officers then called Pittsburgh Detective David Derbish to the scene to determine Ford’s identity. Derbish said he saw a bulge in Ford’s sweatpants from outside the car and worried it could be a weapon.

When Ford refused to exit the car for a pat-down, Miller tried unsuccessfully to pull Ford out of the car. Detective Derbish then jumped in the passenger side. The car, which was still in drive, started to move, and within seconds, Derbish shot Ford in the chest five times, paralyzing him.

An-Li Herring is a reporter for 90.5 WESA, with a focus on economic policy, local government, and the courts. She previously interned for NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in Washington, DC, and the investigations team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A Pittsburgh native, An-Li completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and earned her law degree from Stanford University. She can be reached at aherring@wesa.fm.
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