“The only crime he committed was smiling too much.”
Leon Ford, a man paralyzed when Pittsburgh Officer David Derbish “feared for his life” and shot Ford at a traffic stop, was found not guilty on Monday on two counts of aggravated assault, charges which could have landed him 20 years in prison.
The jury was deadlocked on all other charges, which included three counts of recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and escape.
It is unclear if the lesser charges will be refiled against this young father.
After the verdict was read, journalist Don Carpenter who was at the court house told The Free Thought Project,
“The entire courthouse was lit up by Leon’s smile.”
Last week, after asking to see the dashcam footage again, a juror was excused and replaced by an alternate. No explanation was given for why the juror was excused.
Ford was pulled over on November 11, 2012, when the Pittsburgh police were looking for a “black male wearing a white tshirt”.
Ford, frightened that they thought he was someone else, attempted to drive off, which yes, was a bad decision.
The officer however, then violated procedure by jumping into Ford’s car claiming that they saw a bulge in his pants and believed it to be a weapon. He was unarmed.
Moments later, the young man was shot five times by the officer in his passenger seat.
In the Change.org Petition written by Ford’s mother, Latonya Green, states:
“Police dash-cam video of the incident would later reveal that our 19-year-old teenager was detained by three police officers on a dark road for almost twenty-five minutes during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop. My son properly provided officers with his driver licenses, vehicle registration and proof of insurance while they harassed him over the legitimacy of his identity. Even more painful to watch is the heartbreaking sounds of our youngest child being shot five times by a police officer who decided to jump inside my son’s vehicle. While we are not sure how the car shifted into gear once the officer jumped inside the vehicle, we are sure that our son was in mortal fear for his life as police harassed, threatened and hurled racial slurs towards him.:”
Ford now has no control over his body from the waist down. He cannot control his bodily functions, walk, or engage in sexual activity.
“He was the kind of kid you wanted your kid to hang out with.”, his father lamented, “only crime he committed is smiling too much.”
— Zaria Underwood (@mindlessgirl214) August 20, 2014
While his acquittal on these charges is absolutely a victory, if there was any justice at all, or if our courts had a conscience, the officer who shot him would be sitting on trial in his place.
Officer David Derbish is still armed and dangerous behind a badge on the streets of Pittsburgh.
We reached out to Ford for a comment, but a gag order is still in place.
The best feeling in the world is to know you give the hood hope. These are the young people everybody… http://t.co/M6qKSFLNwL
— Leon Ford (@LeonFordSpeaks) August 21, 2014