Zappala: No retrial for Ford


After months of analysis and thought, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala has decided his office will not retry Leon Ford.
“I have directed that the remaining charges be withdrawn,” Zappala wrote in a Jan. 23 statement.
It became official three days later when Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus allowed the charges, which stemmed from a November 2012 traffic stop in which Ford was shot five times and paralyzed, to be dropped.
A jury acquitted Ford in September of the most serious charges, but deadlocked on the lesser charges of reckless endangerment, resisting arrest and escape. Those charges are now void. In his statement, Zappala gave five reasons for his decision:
“1. In terms of the protection of the public, a jury acquitted on the assault allegations against the persons immediately at risk—the police officers. Those issues cannot be re-tried.
2. That the trial judge found the traffic stop was legal—i.e., that the police were properly enforcing the law. This was the matter appealed by Ford, which took jurisdiction away from the trial court.
3. The deterrence of any future conduct of this type,—fleeing a lawful traffic stop—will be as a result of the injuries sustained during the event, and not from a second trial.
4. That members of our community who have raised issues concerning police training and     tactics will have a fair and thorough analysis of those issues by the United States Justice Department.
5. That given the efforts of Chief McLay to improve police and community relations, it is my hope that not proceeding to a second trial will assist both the Chief and our community in this regard.”
The withdrawal also voids the gag order placed on participants prior to trial, which will now allow Ford greater freedom in assisting in the federal civil rights lawsuit he filed against Pittsburgh police Officers Frank Derbish—who shot him, Michael Koslo and Andrew Miller for unreasonable search and seizure, false arrest, false imprisonment and excessive force.
Though he could talk, Ford’s attorney Fred Rabner is currently not allowing it because, among other things, he is recovering from surgery. Rabner said he has a number of conditions that could require further surgery.
Earlier this month, the City of Pittsburgh, which Ford is also suing for failing to adequately train and supervise the officers, failed to get the trial delayed. U.S. District Judge Maureen Kelly ruled the city could not show how proceeding would harm it.
The next meeting between the parties and Kelly is scheduled for Feb. 9.
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