Just Sayin’ …A ‘trigger-happy’ officer— and still no justice for Leon Ford (Ulish Carter's Column Oct. 25, 2017)


The recent hung jury in the Leon Ford case is terrible.
How in the world can six people justify the shooting of an unarmed male in a traffic stop in which they thought he was someone else?
At first I was shocked, but then I came to my senses and realized that Ford was a young Black male driving in America, where it has become open season, and instead of our president being concerned about these killings he’s more concerned with the flag, and Blacks taking a knee to protest the many shootings and injustices all over this country.
The Leon Ford incident happened in November 2012 in what was described as a traffic stop because Pittsburgh Police Officer Andrew Miller thought Ford was someone else. Pittsburgh Police Officer David Derbish was called to identify him. This information was in the New Pittsburgh Courier right after the incident.
Officers apparently thought Ford was Lamont Ford, a known gang member. Still, I don’t understand what would make the officer so afraid that he would shoot first. Ford, who was 19 at the time, was shot five times by Officer Derbish. Ford had no gun.
The reasoning given by the officers was that Ford, after stopping, took off again and Derbish jumped in the car and shot Ford. There are reports that Officer Derbish said he saw a bulge in Ford’s pocket he thought was a gun.
If Ford was driving the car it would make it pretty hard for him to steer the car, shift the gear into drive and shoot Officer Derbish.
Yet after clearing Officer Miller of all charges, which was fair, he didn’t do the shooting, the jury then voted 6 to 6 on Officer Derbish.
Leon Ford will be paralyzed for the rest of his life, and I hate to even think about the medical bills he and his family has had to pay and will continue to have to because an officer was trigger-happy. And that doesn’t include the legal fees in the civil suits against the two officers. If they receive no money from the civil suits they must come up with the money themselves.
Jumping into the car was totally wrong, yet somehow this went right over six people’s heads.
I wonder if there were any Blacks on the jury. If there were, how many voted against Officer Derbish and how many voted in favor of Ford?
There were several rallies and fundraisers for Ford shortly after the shooting, but I haven’t seen anything recently. Hopefully the ACLU, the Neighborhood Legal Service, Black Lives Matter or someone or community group is helping the family.
While Black families throughout this country like the Fords are struggling, suffering with grief because of the shooting of their sons, and Black males driving in fear, President Trump is still stating his displeasure with NFL owners for not punishing the players who don’t stand for the National Anthem. Yet at the same time he’s disrespecting of the lone Black soldier killed in Niger fighting for this country.
The NFL, in response, had a meeting with the players and they are supposed to implement several programs to help Black communities, as well as awareness programs to address the many problems faced by inner city youth, which most of the Black pro players also faced growing up. Sports gave them an out, but what happens to kids who can’t play basketball, football, baseball, or dance or sing?
So, maybe something positive will come from this whole situation. Even though Trump meant it for bad, the players and owners, hopefully, have turned what was intended to drive a wedge between the fans and players into something good.
Colin Kaepernick has filed suit against the NFL and is practicing hard to get back into the league. Hopefully some team will have the balls to give him a shot because he is an outstanding player who can help several teams in the NFL as a starting quarterback.
Back to Niger…
Why are we in Niger, Africa? And why doesn’t anyone know anything about what happened to the four soldiers killed there?
Rachel Maddow, an MSNBC anchor, had a good point recently. She stated that Chad, Africa had been the leading African country in the fight against Isis in northern Africa, but because the U.S. had alienated them by placing them on the no visa, no fly list because of some paperwork technicality, they pulled a lot of their troops out which may have been the reason U.S. troops were alone on the ground.
I sure hope Africa doesn’t become the new fighting ground for these sick groups seeking a reason to kill and destroy in the name of God. At first it was the Christian Crusades and now it’s radical Muslims.
We don’t have to go overseas to find radical religions. More and more of the radical Christians who formed and supported the KKK, and the radical right are raising their ugly heads throughout the South and Western states as a part of the Trump 30 percent base.
(Ulish Carter is the former managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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