Jury deliberation continues on Thursday in a federal civil rights case of a Black driver who was paralyzed by a white Pittsburgh police officer during a traffic stop in 2012, The Tribune-Review reports.
Leon Ford alleges that the officers used unreasonably excessive force during the encounter, in which Officer David Derbish shot him five times. Ford, 24, accuses a second officer at the scene, Anthony Miller, of assault and battery.
In his closing argument on Tuesday, Ford’s attorney, Fred Rabner, said his client is a victim of rogue cops who wrongfully detained Ford after he showed them a valid driver’s license and registration. They mistook him for a gang member, the New York Times reported.
“Despite Leon doing everything right, they intimidated him, they threatened him, they terrorized him and, ultimately, they paralyzed him,” Rabner told the jury, according to the Associated Press.
He also told the jury, which includes no Blacks, that Ford is now a paraplegic. He relies on a catheter, must manually clear his bowels and has a life expectancy that’s reduced by 16 years.
The officers argue that Ford refused to comply with their order to get out of his vehicle when they observed a “bulge” in his sweat pants that they suspected was a gun. They tried to pull Ford out to frisk him.
While Miller pulled from the driver’s side, Derbish climbed into the passenger seat to push. The vehicle began moving forward in the melee. Derbish said he fired at Ford because he thought the suspect was trying to flee.
Ford testified that he refused to leave his car because the officers continued to detain him even though he produced valid documents—including a legal identification that proved he was not the gang member.
He also denied trying to escape, explaining that his car was inadvertently shifted into gear during the struggle.