City denied delay in fed Ford case


Leon Ford has won the first round in his federal civil rights case against the City of Pittsburgh. U.S. Magistrate Maureen Kelly denied a motion by the city asking the trial be delayed until a related state criminal case is completed.
Ford filed federal charges against the city claiming it did not adequately train and supervise its police officers—one of which, Officer David Derbish, shot him five times during a bungled 2012 traffic stop in Highland Park and leaving him paralyzed.
Ford, 21, of Shaler is suing Derbish and Officers Michael Kelso and Andrew Miller for excessive use of force, false arrest, false imprisonment, and unreasonable search and seizure. Former Chiefs Nate Harper and Regina McDonald were released from the lawsuit last month.
The officers stopped Ford for a minor traffic violation Nov. 11, 2012, and despite being shown valid identification, were convinced they had stopped wanted felon Lamont Ford.
After he allegedly refused to exit his car, they tried to physically remove him, with Derbish entering the passenger side of the vehicle and trying to pry Ford’s hands loose from the steering wheel and gearshift. The car took off and Derbish fired.
They charged Ford with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, escape and reckless endangerment. A jury acquitted Ford on the assault charges in September but deadlocked on the other charges.
Because Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has not said whether or not he would re-file the charges—and is allowed up to a year to do so—Ford has appealed to state Superior Court asking that they be dismissed.
In denying the city’s motion for a delay, Kelly told city attorneys Jan. 5 that they failed to show how the ongoing state appeal harms their case.
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